A deep sea mining zone in the remote Pacific is also a goldmine of unique species

Industrial mining of the deep ends of the ocean for valuable minerals is becoming more of a possibility as companies search for new sources of needed minerals, such as cobalt and lithium.

The devastating impacts that this noisy and extractive process could have on the ocean’s numerous species is front of mind for scientists around the world, particularly in the mineral-rich Clarion-Clipperton Zone of the Pacific Ocean.

A study published May 25 in the journal Current Biology found 5,578 different species in the CCZ, and roughly 88 to 92 percent of these species are entirely new to science.

The authors compiled a CCZ checklist of all the species and records to better understand what may be at risk when mining begins.

Polymetallic nodules are also found in deeper regions of the Indian Ocean.

In the study, the team sifted through over 100,000 records of the creatures found in the CCZ taken during these expeditions.

They found that only six of the new species found in the CCZ-including a carnivorous sponge, a nematode, and a sea cucumber-have been seen in other regions of the world.

The most common type of animals in the CCZ are arthropods, worms, sponges, and echinoderms like sea urchins.

“There’s some just remarkable species down there. Some of the sponges look like classic bath sponges, and some look like vases. They’re just beautiful,” said Rabone.

“There are so many wonderful species in the CCZ,” said Rabone, “And with the possibility of mining looming, it’s doubly important that we know more about these really understudied habitats.”