Impacts of human activities on benthic habitat
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ImpactsCold-water coral reefs, coral gardens, and sponge grounds are areas of high biodiversity in the Arctic and have been identified as Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs). Damage to these ecosystems may reduce local biodiversity. Also, because corals and sponges grow so slowly, recovery of these habitats may range from decades to centuries. These habitats are particularly vulnerable to human activities such as fishing and oil and gas exploration. Increasing sea temperatures, ocean acidification, and pollution present further threats to corals and sponges.