‘Ocean Acidification’ threats through the lens of biogeography in global hot spots of biodiversity and upwelling ecosystems: SEAFOAM WG approach to mitigate OA and Cobalt Mining in Seamounts

Chair: Jean-Pierre Gattuso

Robert Y. George
George Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability (GIBS) www.GIBSconservation.org and SEAmount Faunal vulnerability to Ocean Acidification and Mining (SEAFOAM WG)

From biogeographic perspectives, I have identified three regions as models for evaluating ocean acidification threats that may cause significant regime shifts in the ecosystems by the end of the 21st century (2100). These ecosystems are (1) High latitude Antarctic marine ecosystems, (2) Northeast Pacific Ocean, and (3) Seamounts off Southeast Australia. In the high latitude Southern Ocean, krill biomass will decline drastically because of shifts in carbonate saturation. There is now evidence that ecological vacuums created by krill population collapses are already replaced by soft-bodied salps Salpa thomsoni. By the end of 21st century, ocean acidification stress. coupled with thermal increase, synergistically may reach physiologically critical levels in some areas of the Southern Ocean and egg development of krill will cease. I have earlier reported on krill egg development in relation to thermal change and high pressure (George and Stromberg,1985). Recent experiments on krill development by Dr. So Kawaguchi suggests that if we do not reduce CO2 emissions, we may witness 20 to 70 % reduction in Antarctic Krill by 2100. As a consequence, krill-eating baleen whales, seals and penguin populations will drop significantly. In the Northeast Pacific, the upwelling events over years brought acidic waters to shallower depths. Guinnote et al. (2006) documented the truth that ‘Aragonite Saturation Horizon’ (ASH) eliminated scleractinian coral species in the Northeast Pacific. OA threats in this region in the coming decades can interfere with growth and reproduction of pelagic, littoral and intertidal shell-bearing species. The deep-sea harbors the most spectacular hard coral Lophelia reefs and octocoral gardens (Paragorgia arborea) but these sensitive ecosystems are also susceptible to OA impacts. How do we mitigate the adverse impact of ocean acidification influences and proposed cobalt mining impacts in the seamounts in world oceans with mining permits from ‘International Seabed Authority (ISA)? SEAFOAM SCOR WG is now established to answer these crucial questions to conserve biodiversity of the seamounts. The goal now is to “urgently locate and protect sites globally”, as recommended by Thresher et al (2015), based on recent seamount investigations off Southeast Australia.