HKU marine ecologist and international team identifies areas of top priority for deep-sea monitoring and conservation through a survey of world’s leading deep-sea scientists

February 10th 2020

To classify the most important ecological and biological components of the deep sea, an international team including Professor Roberto Danovaro from Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn Napoli, Italy and Dr Moriaki Yasuhara from The Swire Institute of Marine Science (SWIMS) and School of Biological Sciences, The University of Hong Kong (HKU) sent a questionnaire-based survey to the world’s leading deep-sea scientists around the world. They then analysed the responses received from 112 scientists so as to create an expert-led list of priorities covering all aspects of deep-sea monitoring, conservation and management.

為了找出深海中不同生態和生物的重要性,香港大學太古海洋科學研究所及生物科學學院副教授安原盛明博士,與意大利拿波里Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn 學院Roberto Danovaro教授合作,向全球逾百名具影響力的深海生物學家以問卷方式,蒐集及分析他們對深海保育管理策略及方向上的一些意見。 透過分析112份收集到的問卷,安原盛明博士及Danovaro 教授制訂出一個由國際海洋專家引領、涵蓋深海保育所有範疇的優先次序列表。

The results of the survey are presented in a Perspective in the leading journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, identifying key areas on which future conservation and management strategies should be focused. The article highlights priorities for monitoring, including large animals and habitat-forming species like deep-sea corals, and the impact of human activities such as mining on this vulnerable ecosystem.

調查結果剛於國際知名學術期刊 Nature Ecology & Evolution 中發表。文章歸納了權威學者對監控深海不同項目優先次序的看法,包括對體形龐大的生物、形成棲息地的物種如珊瑚,以及人類活動對深海生態系統的影響等。

The deep sea (defined here as below 200-metre depth) represents the largest, but least explored, type of environment, or biome, on Earth. It is home to many ecologically rare, unique and unknown species that are increasingly under multiple threats from industrial deep-sea mining, deep-sea fishing, climate change and plastic pollution.

深海( 深度超過200米)是地球上最大卻最少被人探究的生態環境,它為很多生態上非常罕有、獨特以及不知名的物種提供棲身之所,而這些物種正受著與日俱增及來自不同方面的威脅,例如深海工業磡探、深海捕魚、氣候轉變以及塑膠污染等。

The results of the survey indicated that habitat-forming species such as deep-sea corals were considered the most important area for conservation efforts. Large and medium-bodied organisms were considered the top priority for biodiversity monitoring in deep-sea habitats. Other equally significant factors for monitoring the deep-sea environment include habitat degradation and recovery as a measure of ecosystem health, and classification of the food-web structure of deep-sea communities to monitor the functioning of whole ecosystems. Identifying shifts in the depth ranges of different species was also a priority for monitoring responses to climate change.


“People tended to think deep sea is immune from human impacts or climate changes but scientific studies have been proving that it is untrue. Indeed, a better and standardised monitoring framework to prepare and manage for future is needed,” said Dr Yasuhara. South China Sea is, of course, not an exemption from the threats. SWIMS is an Asian hub of marine conservation and contributes to global deep-sea issues, for example, through this global collaborative paper and also through the ongoing 2nd World Ocean Assessment led by United Nations.



“The results are useful as a guideline for future deep-sea research, conservation and monitoring. The endorsements and adoptions of the proposed deep-sea essential ecological variables by industry, governments and non-governmental organisations would also help guide more sustainable management of oceans,” the authors concluded.


The paper 論文連結:

‘Ecological variables for developing a global deep-ocean monitoring and conservation strategy’ in Nature Ecology & Evolution by Roberto Danovaro and collaborators including Moriaki Yasuhara.

Link of journal paper:


For more information about Dr Moriaki Yasuhara’s research, please visit:


For media enquiries, please contact Mr Benjamin Miu, Science Outreach and Liaison Officer of Faculty of Science (Tel: 3971 4948/ 3917 7897; email: or Dr Moriaki Yasuhara (Email:

傳媒查詢,請聯絡港大理學院繆耀強先生(電話:3917 4948/ 3917 7897; 電郵:或港大香港大學太古海洋科學研究所及生物科學學院安原盛明博士 (電郵:。


Image 1: Fishing line tangled (left back) in a mussel bed at a methane seep off Costa Rica. (Photo credit: Lisa Levin and Schmidt Ocean Institute)

圖一:在哥斯達尼加一個滿佈蚌的海床上,有一個糾纏在一有一個糾纏在一起的捕魚網 (左後方)。(圖片來源: Lisa Levin and Schmidt Ocean Institute)

Image 2: A community of deep-sea animals. (Photo credit: Lisa Levin).

圖二:深海動物群體。(圖片來源: Lisa Levin)

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