The deep seas, encompassing 78% of the Mediterranean Sea and more than 65% of the Earth’s surface, are vital to life on the planet. These vast underwater realms harbour 95% of the Earth’s biosphere.
But despite their significance, the deep seas remain largely unexplored, with 66% of species yet to be discovered.
The biodiversity of the deep Mediterranean Sea depends on diversity of habitats: submarine canyons and seamounts, continental rise deposits, mud volcanoes, and extreme environments such as hydrothermal vents, cold seeps and deep-hypersaline anoxic basins.
Even seemingly ‘featureless’ soft-bottom habitats host unique and vulnerable species and habitats (such as sponge fields and gorgonian and pennatulacean meadows).
But these ecosystems are under threat. Climate change, deep-sea fishing and pollution are affecting these vulnerable environments.
The preservation of deep sea biodiversity also holds significant implications for coastal communities, and the delicate balance of Mediterranean marine ecosystems.