Photos: Hidden Creatures of the Ocean Deep

Images from the seabed shed light on underwater landscapes in need of protection

Thousands of meters below the ocean’s surface live the creatures of the deep seabed. The ocean floor is one of the least explored areas in the world. While it once was thought to be lifeless, new discoveries reveal many species thriving in waters so deep that in some cases self-generating bioluminescence provides the only light.

But the deep sea is also home to valuable mineral deposits, which many see as the next frontier in mining and resource extraction.

More than half of the world’s seabed lies in areas beyond national jurisdiction. The International Seabed Authority (ISA) was established in 1982 under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to manage these ocean bottoms. As part of its mandate, the ISA is in the process of writing the rules that will ultimately dictate how seabed mining can move forward, how to lower its impact, and how to protect areas of particular ecological importance from mining.

The ISA will meet Aug. 7-18 in Kingston, Jamaica, for its 23rd annual session. Member states and official observers will discuss drafts of a mining code and ways to reduce environmental impacts. Now is the time for governments to ensure that when seabed mining begins, it is undertaken in a way that protects and conserves special areas of the deep for future generations.


Event Rebroadcast: Deep Seabed Mining and the Environment

Episode 19

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The ocean floor is one of the least-explored places in the world. Rich with abundant marine life and mineral deposits, the deep seabed has attracted the interest of a newly forming deep-sea mining industry, which could threaten fragile marine ecosystems. In this episode, we rebroadcast an event at Pew featuring Michael Lodge, secretary-general of the International Seabed Authority, which oversees the seabed that lies beyond national jurisdiction—an area that covers more than half of the world’s ocean floor. Lodge spoke about the future of seabed mining, and the challenges and opportunities around developing rules—informed by science—that could govern this extractive activity while minimizing the environmental damage done to these pristine areas. To learn more, visit