Indian Ocean Study Could Reveal Effects of Deep Sea Fishing
The first time scientists explored deep in the Indian Ocean, they found a new species of glowing squid. Now researchers who are departing from South Africa on Monday with even better equipment are hoping for similar success.
In 2009, the scientists collected some 7,000 samples including the newly discovered squid, which has light-producing organs that it uses to attract its prey. Researchers aboard the RRS James Cook are taking along special cameras for photographing the ocean floor - something they didn't have last time.
"We don't know much about the deep sea community," Aurelie Spadone, a sea specialist with the International Union for Conservation of Nature, said in a telephone interview Monday before setting out. "It would be very surprising if we don't find something like a new species."
The trip is focused on learning more about how deep sea fishing is affecting marine life along seamounts - peaks rising from the floor of the southern Indian Ocean.
Carl Gustaf Lundin, director of IUCN's Global Marine and Polar Programme, said many of the species that live around seamounts grow and reproduce slowly, so overfishing can severely affect their populations.
"Deep-sea bottom fisheries, including bottom trawling, can damage seamount habitats and negatively impact fish stocks," Lundin said. "It can also irreversibly damage cold water corals, sponges and other animals."