Gammarus wilkitzkii. Photo: Norwegian Polar Institute

More than 3,050 invertebrates species inhabit the Barents Sea benthos (Sirenko, 2001) and boreal-arctic species dominate in terms of biomass. Benthic areas with low abundance (less than 1,000 individuals/ m2) and biomass (less than 10-25 g/m2) are usually restricted to bottom depressions such as the western deep-water areas in the Bear Island Channel (Bjørnøyrenna) and Hopen Deep (Hopendypet) (Figure 4.3.11), deep-water areas between Franz Josef Land and shallow waters of the Novaya Zemlya Bank and deep-water areas in the Eastern Basin (Øst bassenget sør, Figure 4.3.11).

Trawling activity. Photo: Norwegian Polar Institute

The Barents Sea is subjected to a number of pressures (Figure 4.3.23) which are expected to have an effect on the megabenthos. These pressures include: 1) the non-indigenous snow crab, which may become a dominant species in a continuously spreading zone; 2) the influx of warm Atlantic waters into southwestern and possibly northwestern regions which may change the

Sea star. Photo: Norwegian Polar Institute

Zoobenthic monitoring in the Kola section is one of the most published and extensive monitoring programs in the Russian Arctic. Data collection was initiated in the early 20th century by the Marine Biological Station, in Alexander Harbor of the Kola Bay. Modern benthic investigations in the Kola Section have been conducted by the Murmansk Marine Biological Institute (MMBI) since 1995. PINRO joined the monitoring program in 2003 using methods comparable to the existing long-term monitoring series. Since 2010, PINRO and MMBI have collaborated to ensure increased sampling regularity, greater speed in data processing, and more accurate taxonomic identification.

Trawling activity. Photo: Norwegian Polar Institute

Recent ocean warming has caused some commercial fish species to expand northward. This includes the Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), which has recently been recorded north to 82ºN on the edge of the Barents Sea shelf to the Arctic Ocean (Johansen et al., 2013; Kjesbu et al., 2014).

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