Deep-sea octopods under threat from mining: study

Deep-sea octopods under threat from mining: study

Deep-sea creatures like Casper, which make their home nearly 2.5 miles beneath the ocean surface, are under increasing threat from human activities, a new study cautioned.

Casper, a milky-white species of deep-sea octopus, was discovered in March this year. Now, the new study indicated that this newly discovered cephalopod species is being threatened by deep-sea mining.

Researchers reported that creatures like Casper lay their eggs on the stalks of dead sponges, which are attached to fist-sized clumps of metals that gradually precipitate out of the water column over thousands of years. They are known as manganese nodules.

The nodules contain metals that are used in mobile phones and computers. That is why, these nodules are becoming increasingly attractive to miners.

Lead researcher Autun Purser, of Germany-based Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar & Marine Research, said, “Many of these metals are not available easily on land at a good price. This is driving research into how to get these metals out of the sea.”

The researchers warned that removal of manganese nodules from deep sea areas like the Peru Basin in the Pacific will leave the sponges with nothing to attach to and these deep sea octopods could eventually lose a key habitat for reproduction.

The researchers reported their findings in the most recent edition of the prestigious journal Cell Biology.