//
you're reading...

Ecology

New housing options in unlikely places: Animals and oil platforms.

Claisse, J. T., Pondella, D. J., Love, M., Zahn, L. A., Williams, C. M., Williams, J. P., & Bull, A. S. (2014). Oil platforms off California are among the most productive marine fish habitats globally. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), 111(43), 15462 – 15467. doi:10.1073/pnas.1411477111

 

Background

Oil and gas production peppers our coastal waters with large metal structures, called rigs or platforms, which are used by

Figure one: Platform diagram and map of the study area. The platform midwater habitat encompasses the hard substrate of the platform structure from the water surface to 2 m above the seafloor, whereas the platform base habitat is the bottom 2 m of the platform structure. The platform structure consists of outer vertical pilings and horizontal crossbeams (i.e., the platform jacket) and the vertical oil and gas conductors in the center. Note this is a general display diagram and the designs of these structures vary from platform to platform. The 16 platforms (filled circles; names in all capital letters) and seven natural reefs (open circles) used in the study were surveyed for at least 5 (up to 15) y between 1995 and 2011.

Figure one: Platform diagram and map of the study area. . The 16 platforms (filled circles; names in all capital letters) and seven natural reefs (open circles) used in the study were surveyed for at least 5 (up to 15) y between 1995 and 2011.

the industry for a finite amount of time. Over the coming decades thousands of these existing structures will become economically unviable and decisions will need to be made about their removal. The situation may not be entirely bad though. New research has found that oil and gas platforms can act as new real estate for marine animals looking for a new home.

Oil and gas platforms can serve as artificial reefs due to the increased abundance of marine life living in and around them. Decommissioned rigs can be considered for a “rigs-to-reefs” approach involving leaving part, if not all, of the platform in the ocean indefinitely. The incentive is to promote the population growth of key species, particularly ones that are commercially valuable or in decline.

This study focused on oil and gas platforms off the coast of California and aims to answer the question of just how productive these environments can be.

 

Methods

The authors conducted biomass surveys annually using submersibles. The researchers counted, identified and estimated the length of all fish seen within two meters of the rig. Surveys were conducted off the coast of California at 16 platforms and seven natural reefs. Each location was surveyed for at least five years.

The oil platforms were measured at two levels: midwater habitats (surface down to 2 m above seafloor) and base habitats. The natural reefs were primarily rocky habitats. The researchers traveled from the surface to seafloor in research submarines to conduct visual surveys of each area. Annual densities (fish per square meter) were calculated for each of the three zones.

 

Results

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 10.25.50 AM

Table one: Estimates of fish biomass and production from various studies.

Oil and gas platforms off California have the highest fish biomass production per meter squared of seafloor than any marine habitat previously studied. Significantly greater total biomass production was seen at the platform base habitat than at natural reefs or midwater habitats.

 

Figure Two: Annual Total Production. (A) Annual production values scaled to per square meter of habitat for natural reefs (n = 56) and platform habitat subtypes [base (n = 111), midwater (n = 132)]. (B) Annual production values scaled to per square meter of seafloor for natural reefs (n = 56) and complete platforms (n = 111). Circles indicate individual data points and are jittered for visibility. Horizontal lines show the backtransformed estimated marginal means. The shaded box represents the 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of the mean. Differences were considered significant if the 95% CIs of their marginal means did not overlap.

Figure Two: Annual Total Production. (A) Annual production values scaled to per square meter of habitat for natural reefs (n = 56) and platform habitat subtypes [base (n = 111), midwater (n = 132)]. (B) Annual production values scaled to per square meter of seafloor for natural reefs (n = 56) and complete platforms (n = 111). The shaded box represents the 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of the mean. Differences were considered significant if the 95% CIs of their marginal means did not overlap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rig structures act as nurseries for small, juvenile fish and host a wide variety of invertebrates that are an important component of the food web in the areas studied. A platform offers a large amount of surface area compared to open water environments and many animals take advantage of this new real estate.

 

Significance

The rig environments were productive in this study because they offered suitable habitats in places that are otherwise devoid of natural habitats.

Human activities in the ocean generally are generally destructive to both fish and invertebrate marine species. Potentially destructive activities, such as oil and gas production, may have inadvertently helped to create new, highly productive habitats, particularly after the rigs are not in commercial use.

Further studies of oil rigs or wind and wave energy platforms could give new insights into the best infrastructure for supporting a healthy marine ecosystem. New platforms should be designed with conservation and long-term planning in mind.

Discussion

No comments yet.

Post a Comment

Instagram

  • by oceanbites 3 months ago
    Happy Earth Day! Take some time today to do something for the planet and appreciate the ocean, which covers 71% of the Earth’s surface.  #EarthDay   #OceanAppreciation   #Oceanbites   #CoastalVibes   #CoastalRI 
  • by oceanbites 4 months ago
    Not all outdoor science is fieldwork. Some of the best days in the lab can be setting up experiments, especially when you get to do it outdoors. It’s an exciting mix of problem solving, precision, preparation, and teamwork. Here is
  • by oceanbites 5 months ago
    Being on a research cruise is a unique experience with the open water, 12-hour working shifts, and close quarters, but there are some familiar practices too. Here Diana is filtering seawater to gather chlorophyll for analysis, the same process on
  • by oceanbites 6 months ago
    This week for  #WriterWednesday  on  #oceanbites  we are featuring Hannah Collins  @hannahh_irene  Hannah works with marine suspension feeding bivalves and microplastics, investigating whether ingesting microplastics causes changes to the gut microbial community or gut tissues. She hopes to keep working
  • by oceanbites 6 months ago
    Leveling up - did you know that crabs have a larval phase? These are both porcelain crabs, but the one on the right is the earlier stage. It’s massive spine makes it both difficult to eat and quite conspicuous in
  • by oceanbites 7 months ago
    This week for  #WriterWednesday  on  #Oceanbites  we are featuring Cierra Braga. Cierra works ultraviolet c (UVC) to discover how this light can be used to combat biofouling, or the growth of living things, on the hulls of ships. Here, you
  • by oceanbites 7 months ago
    This week for  #WriterWednesday  at  #Oceanbites  we are featuring Elena Gadoutsis  @haysailor  These photos feature her “favorite marine research so far: From surveying tropical coral reefs, photographing dolphins and whales, and growing my own algae to expose it to different
  • by oceanbites 8 months ago
    This week for  #WriterWednesday  on Oceanbites we are featuring Eliza Oldach. According to Ellie, “I study coastal communities, and try to understand the policies and decisions and interactions and adaptations that communities use to navigate an ever-changing world. Most of
  • by oceanbites 8 months ago
    This week for  #WriterWednesday  at  #Oceanbites  we are featuring Jiwoon Park with a little photographic help from Ryan Tabata at the University of Hawaii. When asked about her research, Jiwoon wrote “Just like we need vitamins and minerals to stay
  • by oceanbites 8 months ago
    This week for  #WriterWednesday  on  #Oceanbites  we are featuring  @riley_henning  According to Riley, ”I am interested in studying small things that make a big impact in the ocean. Right now for my master's research at the University of San Diego,
  • by oceanbites 8 months ago
    This week for  #WriterWednesday  at  #Oceanbites  we are featuring Gabby Stedman. Gabby is interested in interested in understanding how many species of small-bodied animals there are in the deep-sea and where they live so we can better protect them from
  • by oceanbites 8 months ago
    This week for  #WriterWednesday  at  #Oceanbites  we are featuring Shawn Wang! Shawn is “an oceanographer that studies ocean conditions of the past. I use everything from microfossils to complex computer models to understand how climate has changed in the past
  • by oceanbites 9 months ago
    Today we are highlighting some of our awesome new authors for  #WriterWednesday  Today we have Daniel Speer! He says, “I am driven to investigate the interface of biology, chemistry, and physics, asking questions about how organisms or biological systems respond
  • by oceanbites 9 months ago
    Here at Oceanbites we love long-term datasets. So much happens in the ocean that sometimes it can be hard to tell if a trend is a part of a natural cycle or actually an anomaly, but as we gather more
  • by oceanbites 10 months ago
    Have you ever seen a lobster molt? Because lobsters have exoskeletons, every time they grow they have to climb out of their old shell, leaving them soft and vulnerable for a few days until their new shell hardens. Young, small
  • by oceanbites 11 months ago
    A lot of zooplankton are translucent, making it much easier to hide from predators. This juvenile mantis shrimp was almost impossible to spot floating in the water, but under a dissecting scope it’s features really come into view. See the
  • by oceanbites 11 months ago
    This is a clump of Dead Man’s Fingers, scientific name Codium fragile. It’s native to the Pacific Ocean and is invasive where I found it on the east coast of the US. It’s a bit velvety, and the coolest thing
  • by oceanbites 11 months ago
    You’ve probably heard of jellyfish, but have you heard of salps? These gelatinous sea creatures band together to form long chains, but they can also fall apart and will wash up onshore like tiny gemstones that squish. Have you seen
  • by oceanbites 12 months ago
    Check out what’s happening on a cool summer research cruise! On the  #neslter  summer transect cruise, we deployed a tow sled called the In Situ Icthyoplankton Imaging System. This can take pictures of gelatinous zooplankton (like jellyfish) that would be
  • by oceanbites 1 year ago
    Did you know horseshoe crabs have more than just two eyes? In these juveniles you can see another set in the middle of the shell. Check out our website to learn about some awesome horseshoe crab research.  #oceanbites   #plankton   #horseshoecrabs 
WP2Social Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com