This detail from my painting for DEEP OCEAN STEWARDSHIP INITIATIVE (DOSI) was used for education at the recent COP 27, the United Nations Climate Change “Conference of the Parties” at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt in November of 2022.
Olivia Pereira of Scripps Institution of Oceanography presented the image in her talk featured as part of The Deep Sea, The Climate and the Next Generation.
The pictured activity—mining of Polymetallic Nodule Fields—is projected to begin as soon as 2024 in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone of the central Pacific Ocean, at depths of ~4,000 – 5,500 meters (12,000 – 18,000 feet.) The nodules, which form extremely slowly (at a rate of one centimeter over several million years) and today can be the size of a baby potato, will be collected to extract copper, nickel, cobalt, iron, manganese, and rare earth elements—metals used in touch screens and batteries for green energy. This activity, which involves harvesting the nodules from the sea bed and bringing them to the surface and then to land, could result in the permanent (at least very long-lasting) destruction of sea life and the seabed habitat in the mined areas. Because the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ) is outside national jurisdiction, deep-sea mining in this region is regulated by the International Seabed Authority. Currently, contracts for mining exploration in the CCZ have been granted to 16 deep-sea mining contractors, with exploration areas covering approximately 1 million square kilometers (400,000 square miles) of little-studied mostly pristine sea bed.
The deep ocean is at risk of becoming industrialized in a haphazard way without sufficient environmental planning. Human activities like mining for various minerals, drilling for oil at depths of up to 10,000 feet in sensitive areas like methane seeps which need more research, and destructive deep sea trawl net fishing are increasing rapidly in the deep sea, virtually out of sight and often beyond national jurisdiction and control.
Please watch this excellent short video which explains in pictures the imminent mining of polymetallic nodules in the CCZ: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/08/29/world/deep-sea-riches-mining-nodules.html
For up-to-date information about this fast-moving topic go to https://www.dosi-project.org/topics/biodiversity-beyond-national-jurisdiction-bbnj/ (where you can also see my painting from which the detail is reproduced.)
Pictured in this detail: MANGANESE NODULE FIELDS (>4,000 meters deep): Manganese Nodules Mining Collector; Sea Cucumber (Holothuroidea); Jellyfish, (Voragonema pedunculata); Deep Sea Anglerfish (Melanocetus johnsoni); Tripod Fish (Bathypterois grallator).
Michelle Guraieb of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at right at COP 27 Opening Ceremony, Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.