New species could help monitor impact of future deep-sea mining

Museum scientists working in one of the remotest regions of our planet have helped reveal a completely new group of deep-sea sponges.

future deep-sea mining
Polymetallic nodules, about 3-4cm in size, each with a Plenaster craigi, collected from 4,000m deep in the central Pacific mining frontier. Credit: Natural History Museum London (NHM)


“The sponges live on the ocean floor on metal-rich nodules. The region where they live is targeted by deep-sea mining companies interested in mineral extraction.

Scientists believe they are likely the most abundant animal living on the nodules and could be a key indicator species for measuring future mining impact.

Dr Adrian Glover, principal investigator of the deep-sea research group at the Museum, said, ‘We were simply astonished to discover that the animal was not only a new species but from a new group as well, despite the region being subject to many surveys in the past.

‘It is clear that our knowledge of the biodiversity in this region is still very limited.’ ”

Read the full article on Natural History Museum London (NHM)