QUB Researchers Raise Alarm For Deep Sea Snail

Researchers at Queen's University in Belfast have discovered the first species at risk of extinction due to potential deep sea mining.

As scientists continue to lead the way at Queen's, the scaly-foot snail known as the sea pangolin was listed as endangered last week in the IUCN register which is recognised worldwide as the definitive conservation authority.

Dr Julia Sigwart, Senior Lecturer in Marine Biology and Associate Director at QUB's Marine Laboratory said: "The deep sea is home to thousands of species and new species are being discovered all the time.

"These deep sea marine animals like the scaly-foot snail are out of sight, out of mind, but they are still threatened by human activities."
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The deep sea represents more than half the world's surface and contains more nickel, cobalt and rare earth metals than all land reserves combined.  Mining corporations argue that deep-sea exploration could help diversify the supply of metals, including cobalt for electric car batteries. The demand for copper, aluminium, cobalt and other metals, to power technology and smartphones, is also soaring.

New technology is currently underway to start mining the seafloor, miles below the surface, targeting the same areas that are home to some of the world's rarest, strangest, and most vulnerable, animals.

Dr Sigwart continued: "It is crucial we are aware of the immediacy and potential impacts of deep-sea mining.

"This Red List designation for these species will enable appropriate international protection for the most vulnerable of creatures."

The research project involves international colleagues from Japan, Ireland, and the UK and was funded by the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund.


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