Reefs un­der threat

World of Animals - - Wildlife Of The Atlantic Cold-water Reefs -

As with their trop­i­cal coun­ter­parts, cold-water reefs are un­der in­creas­ing threat due to hu­man ac­tiv­ity

Cold-water reefs have only re­cently started to be recog­nised as an im­por­tant habi­tat type. As a re­sult very lit­tle is known about them in com­par­i­son to their warm-water coun­ter­parts. It is not even cer­tain ex­actly where all the cold-water reefs are in the At­lantic, as new ones are still be­ing dis­cov­ered ev­ery year.

Many cold-water reefs have suf­fered extensive dam­age from high­im­pact fish­ing meth­ods, such as bot­tom trawl­ing and long-line fish­ing. Both of these meth­ods cause di­rect de­struc­tion of liv­ing and dead coral habi­tats, which take hun­dreds of years to re­cover. For ex­am­ple, it is es­ti­mated that up to half of the Nor­we­gian shelf coral area has al­ready been dam­aged by trawl­ing. Other ac­tiv­i­ties such as the lay­ing of com­mu­ni­ca­tion ca­bles and oil ex­plo­ration can also dam­age coral reefs.

Ocean acid­i­fi­ca­tion and cli­mate change are other se­ri­ous in­ter­linked is­sues af­fect­ing both cold- and warm-water reefs. As lev­els of CO2 in­crease in our at­mos­phere more of this gas is ab­sorbed by the oceans, mak­ing them be­come more acidic. This, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with warmer wa­ters, can cause the old dead skele­tons hold­ing up the liv­ing reef struc­ture to dis­solve and be­come un­sta­ble.

The po­lar shrimp is a very re­silient species and is found all around the North­ern Hemi­sphere and at depths of up to 900m (2,952ft) RIGHT The grandly named great spider crab is found inparts of the At­lantic Ocean and the North Sea and does in­deed look a bit spider-like

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