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Man and the last great wilderness: Human impact on the deep sea
Date:8/1/2011

day, together with the continuing illegal disposal of litter from ships and the arrival of litter and contaminants from coastal areas and river discharges. In particular, the accumulation of plastics on the deep seafloor, which degrade into microplastics, called mermaid tears, that can be ingested by the fauna, has consequences still unknown but predicted to be important. Moreover, there is increasing evidence of the accumulation of chemical pollutants of industrial origin, such as mercury, lead and persistent organic pollutants (e.g. dioxins, PCBs) in the sediment and fauna, including in species of commercial interest.

Currently, and because of the reduction of resources on land and in shallow waters, the largest direct impacts come from the exploitation of deep-sea resources and, in particular, from fisheries. In the future, however, the authors of this study predict that the most pervasive impacts may come from ocean acidification and climate change, which act at the global scale and can have important effects from surface waters to the abyssal seafloor. Some of these effects include an increase in water temperature that can cause important changes in stratification of the water column, accumulation of nutrients, and oceanic water circulation with corresponding alteration of hypoxia and faunal community structure.

Most importantly, the authors predict synergies amongst certain anthropogenic impacts and, in particular, between climate change and activities such as resource exploitation, wherein combined impacts may be particularly deleterious to deep-sea faunal communities.

According to the experts, seamounts, cold-water corals, upper margin slopes and submarine canyons are the habitats most likely to be affected by anthropogenic impacts in the short and mid time scale. The activities that may be of highest impact are deepwater fishing together with climate change and ocean acidification, as well as the accumulation of marine litter and
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Contact: Eva Ramirez-Llodra
ezr@icm.csic.es
34-678-537-446
Census of Marine Life
Source:Eurekalert  

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