Benthic flora and fauna

Benthic flora and fauna are the community of organisms that inhabit the benthic zone (see definition for benthic zone), and can also be referred to as benthos. The benthic zone has a unique set of characteristics including: lack of sunlight, cold temperatures, low levels of oxygen and a high level of pressure. Because of these extreme conditions, benthic flora and fauna have undergone specific adaptations that allow them to survive. For example, due to the lack of light, there is no photosynthesis and benthic flora and fauna cannot produce their own food. Instead, they rely on organic matter that drifts down from the layers above. Currently we know very little about these unique ecosystems that inhabit the benthic zone, although we do know they are highly sensitive. Recovery from mining activities is estimated to take decades or centuries, if those communities even recover at all. Deep-sea mining will directly impact benthic flora and fauna, by, for example, smothering and burying organisms where the sediment plume settles (see definition for sediment plume), and crushing or dispersing them with mining devices.