From the Editor: Setting standards, breaking records, and a haunted deep-sea mine?

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Depths of Fear logo. Courtesy Universal Orlando.

Last week, delegates met in Pretoria, South Africa to continue developing standards and guidelines for the mining code and discuss how to manifest the ideals of the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea and the mandate that resource be collected for the good of humankind. 

This May, we have two features from the periphery of the deep-sea mining community. The first dives into a new record for the world’s deepest diving submersible and the implications of private individuals now having the capacity to deploy full-ocean capable vehicles. We also look at the development of offshore diamond mining and how it parallels and diverges from the deep-sea mining industry.

And for something truly out of left field, we’ve got a bit of a pop culture oddity. On Tuesday, Universal Orlando, one of the largest amusement parks in the world, announced that the theme of one of their 2019 Fright Night haunted houses will  be “Depths of Fear”. According to Universal: “The workers of a deep-sea mining company have found themselves in a dire situation. They’ve delved too deep and encountered a parasitic race of creatures that turn out to be deadly. Panic ensues as you find yourself encountering infected miners and acidic creatures. The pressure builds as the self-destruct sequence counts down to the inevitable implosion of the facility.”

I know some folks get a bit annoyed when the Deep-sea Mining Observer covers seemingly trivial, silly stories, but in addition to covering the industry, we want to provide a broader view of how the community and industry is perceived across a host of stakeholders as well as the general public and in popular culture. In our feature on diamond mining, we talk about how public perception, good PR, and effective marketing can shape the development of a nascent industry. Outside of some classic works of hard science fiction, deep-sea mining has a rocky pop culture track record. In recent years, the industry has been the plot catalyst for a reboot of the Andromeda Strain, awakened ancient monstrosities, and now features prominently as the setting for a haunted house at one of the most popular theme parks in the world.

21 million people visited Universal Orlando in 2017, the most recent date for which data is available.

Outside of a handful of very niche video games, there have been few instances of deep-sea mining presented in a positive light. As the industry moves rapidly from speculation to actual production, how the public perceives it will play an important role in shaping future policy.