Before we start mining for precious metals in the darkness of the deep sea, we might try switching on the light first and observing our surroundings…
In this seemingly isolated abyss, deeper than 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) below sea level, scientists were able to coax a massive swarm of 115 cutthroat eels out of the shadows and into the light, with only a relatively small package of bait.
The footage represents the greatest number of deep sea fish ever recorded at one time in the abyssal ocean, and it was shot right near an international mining hotspot.
The Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ) is a massive expanse of seafloor that runs from Hawaii nearly to Mexico, and it contains some of the rarest and most highly demanded metals and elements on our planet.
Over the years, it’s drawn increasing interest from the mining industry, sixteen contracts have already been issued for deep sea mining in more than 1 million square kilometres of this zone – and yet only a tiny portion of deep abyssal habitats have been sampled, explored, or even mapped by scientists.
It’s decisions like this that have some scientists and environmentalists warning of a deep sea “gold rush” that could cause unforeseen damage to ecosystems we know very little about.
The abyssal plains that blanket the bottom of our oceans represent 70 percent of our planet’s seafloor and are considered the largest ecosystem on Earth.
Recent expeditions among submerged seamounts in the Galapagos and off the coast of Tasmania have revealed an unexpected abundance of life forms, many of which we’ve never seen before.