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Depletion of commercially valuable minerals on land and increased need of such resources for modern electronics and manufacturing is attracting more and more attention to deep-sea mineral deposits such as cobalt crusts, manganese nodules, phosphorites, polymetallic sulfides and even deep-sea ooze. In a few years we expect intensive exploitation in the deep-sea. Being suspension feeders, corals and sponges associated with hard substrata in potential mining sites would be adversely impacted by deep-sea mining. Deep-sea corals and sponges are characterized by extremely slow growth rates and, as can be seen from fishery impacts, they may take decades to centuries to restore. At the same time, they serve as a substrate, shelter and food for a number of associated deep-sea organisms, thus increasing the cumulative impact of their loss. We summarize here the available data on coral and sponge communities of solid deep-sea ore deposits and possible mechanisms driving their diversity.
This is an abstract which has been accepted for the WCMB.