IPSO is currently exploring a pilot ecotoxicology project called MarineSafe, which is examining personal care products for common ingredients that are suspected to be harmful to the marine environment and considering new protocols and approaches to tackle this area of pollution.
IPSO is cooperating with NGOs and other bodies in the run up to the climate change COP21, taking place in Paris in December 2–15, to provide marine scientific and communications expertise to improve consideration and increase the profile of the ocean at the meeting.
IPSO is working with organisations to implement the Global Coral Repository or Coral Ark, which will act as a ‘seed bank’ to protect and replace corals lost through ocean warming and acidification, as well as wild-harvesting and natural, catastrophic events.
State of the Ocean workshops – latest workshop
IPSO is convening a workshop in the spring of 2016 to investigate the threat posed to the ocean by marine toxic ingredients contained in personal care products. The findings of this workshop will be taken to an extended meeting held at the International Coral Symposium in June 2016.
In 2011 Alex D. Rogers led an NERC-funded cruise to the South West Indian Ocean to study the biodiversity of seamount ecosystems. Samples taken on the cruise were found to be contaminated with microplastic particles as great as 1,500m deep. Follow-up studies by project partners in the Natural History Museum, London quantified the microplastic particles indicating that the deep sea was likely a major repository of plastics sinking from the ocean surface. It appears the deep sea is a major sink for plastics entering the ocean from land. Another study arising from the same cruise and additional sampling campaigns also identified large quantities of plastic and other debris in the deep ocean. This varied in origin depending on the location with fishing related materials found on the seamounts of the South West Indian Ocean and waste from shipping and land being found in the North Atlantic.
Deep-sea science for society
Alex D. Rogers led the European Marine Board study Delving Deeper: Critical Challenges for 21st Century Deep-Sea Science. The study reviews existing human activities and impacts in the deep sea and identifies the potential growth of several new industries such as deep-sea mining being promoted through the EU Blue Growth agenda. Following consultation with scientists, research funders and industry it is concluded that there is a critical need for baseline research to allow the development of management plans that ensure sustainable exploitation of deep-sea resources and the monitoring of the effects of such activities in the deep sea. The report also identifies shortfalls in infrastructure for deep-sea science and that funding should be on a scale more akin to large-scale space projects given the large size of deep-sea ecosystems and the large gaps in knowledge. Other areas requiring attention include the filling of important legal gaps (e.g. legal framework for MPAs on the high seas) and training of future marine scientists.
Diversity and connectivity in coral reef ecosystems
Alex D. Rogers is currently engaged in several research projects looking at the species richness of coral reef communities and how such communities are connected across depth. Deeper coral reefs, known as mesophotic coral reefs, may be refuges from some of the stresses suffered by shallow water reefs and may act as a source of coral and fish recruits following impacts on shallow water reefs such as mass bleaching. This is known as the deep-reef refugia hypothesis and research is currently underway in the Mesoamerican reef (Honduras) and may be expanded to the Chagos Archipelago and other locations in the Indo-Pacific. Such research is requiring the adoption of new technologies such as the use of closed-circuit rebreathers for diving.