Marine Life Talk – 1 September 2011

Hydrothermal vent

19.30pm at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton – Mining in the deep sea and the protection of marine life –

by Dr David Billett –

The deep ocean holds a wealth of minerals. As minerals become more scarce on land, attention is turning to resources in the ocean.

Deep-sea mineral deposits include billions of potato-sized manganese nodules littering the seafloor, massive accretions at hydrothermal vents, crusts on the flanks of undersea mountains, and mineral-laden sediments. Some of these deposits have taken millions of years to form. Each resource is associated with different types of marine life. Mining by its nature is destructive, so how can we protect marine life while generating the elements needed for so many appliances in our homes?

This talk reviews the different types of ocean mineral deposits, the animals that live in and around them, and the issues being hotly debated about deep-sea mining and social responsibility.

David Billett is a deep-sea ecologist with over 35 years experience of working in the deep-sea environment. He has a particular interest in studying long-term change in the deep-sea and the potential effects of climate change, distinguishing between natural and man-made change, and ensuring sound environmental management of man’s activities in the deep ocean.

Current projects include Hotspot Ecosystem Research and Man’s Impacts on European Seas (HERMIONE), Ecosystems of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (ECOMAR), climate change on the deep-sea floor (Oceans 2025), deep-sea observatories (ESONET, EuroSITES), and the consequences of natural iron fertilisation in the oceans (CROZEX).

David is the Chairman of the United Nations International Seabed Authority’s Legal and Technical Commission with particular responsibility for ensuring that potential mining activities in the deep ocean (polymetallic nodules, ferromanganese-rich cobalt crusts and polymetallic nodules) minimise their environmental impact on deep-sea ecosystems.

David has participated on and led over 40 research cruises. His research focuses on the lives of large invertebrates that wander about on the ocean floor, in particular the sea cucumbers, seastars, brittle stars and sea urchins.

His research has shown that the deep seabed three miles deep is closely coupled to processes at the sea surface.  He is now working on how productivity in the global ocean regulates the present-day distributions of deep-sea life.

Future Marine Life Talks at the National Oceanography Centre

06/10/11 Surf and algal turf – Life on the Boscombe Artificial Surf Reef – Josie Pegg

03/11/11 Local marine fisheries and conservation – Dr Antony Jensen

01/12/11 Title to be confirmed – Dr Joel Parker

Free admission – these talks are open to the public

The Marine Life Talks are held on the first Thursday of the month at 7.30pm, please arrive at 7.15pm to be met in Reception.

Arrangements for wheelchairs must be made in advance. Unless it is possible to descend via the stairs in an emergency, access to upper floors cannot be permitted as lifts are automatically immobilised when the fire alarm is activated.

The National Oceanography Centre is reached via Dock Gate 4 (between Southampton’s Town Quay and Ocean Village).

Event dates: 
Thursday 1 September 2011 - 19:15 to 20:30