The Metals Company: Biodiversity Data from NORI-D Exploration Area Now Available on UNESCO’s Ocean Biodiversity Information System
TMC the metals company Inc., an explorer of the world’s largest estimated undeveloped source of critical battery metals, announced that data submitted by its subsidiary NORI to the International Seabed Authority’s ‘DeepData’ platform in March 2023 has now been made available to the public via UNESCO’s Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS), increasing the biodiversity occurrence records contained within the OBIS ISA node for the Clarion Clipperton Zone by about 150%.
As the first UN body to become a member of the OBIS network, the ISA publishes biodiversity data collected by contractors and submitted to its DeepData platform to the OBIS ISA-node. The publication of this initial batch of data to the OBIS ISA node follows NORI’s decade-long research efforts to define the polymetallic nodule resource and develop an environmental baseline for its NORI-D exploration area as part of its Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for the NORI-D Nodule Project. Since 2012, the Company has collaborated with leading industry experts and independent scientists from marine research institutions from around the world on its ESIA, gathering data throughout 17 offshore campaigns, representing over 470 operational research days in the NORI-D area.
A selection of typical macrofaunal species found on the NORI-D area during NORI’s recent environmental baseline work. These species were retained on a 300-micrometer mesh [half the size of a pencil tip] sieve aboard NORI’s vessel. (Image credit: TMC)
Collected using a suite of high-tech equipment, the NORI dataset now available on OBIS includes over 1,400 biological samples from extensive boxcore and multicore sampling and over 8,000 images analyzed for benthic megafauna captured by Remotely Operated Vehicles from two offshore campaigns. With NORI’s initial ISA submission to DeepData providing a significant expansion to the biological holdings contained within, the upload of this data to OBIS sees NORI becoming the single largest data provider to the OBIS ISA node, providing almost 60% of the records. OBIS holds the world’s largest scientific knowledge base on the diversity, distribution, and abundance of all marine organisms.
The NORI dataset is now available for public scrutiny and interrogation. Since its publication on June 22, 2023, records from the NORI dataset have been downloaded 67 times, and the total number of occurrence records downloaded so far exceeds 4.4 million.
Dr. Michael Clarke, Environmental Manager at The Metals Company, said: “Through our own research efforts and by sharing our data publicly, we expect that the 3D environment of NORI-D will become one of the most highly-characterized areas of our planet’s oceans. This is just a taste of what’s to come, and we look forward to sharing data from additional campaigns, as well as all remaining data concerning ocean geochemistry, bathymetry, and pelagic biodiversity with the scientific community once we’ve gone through the labor-intensive process of analyzing this wealth of information.”
A selection of macrofauna and megafauna species picked from nodules gathered during NORI’s box core sampling on the NORI-D area. (Image credit: TMC)
Over the coming months, NORI will continue working with research teams to fully collate and categorize the hundreds of terabytes of data and thousands of biological samples that have been collected to date. NORI expects numerous further papers to be published in peer-reviewed journals in the coming months and years, adding significantly to society’s understanding of the deep sea.