Monday, October 13, 2014

13/10/2014: Skyscraper living for fish around oil platforms

Think twice before condemning all oil and gas rigs as threats to nature. A submarine study has found that fish are 27 times more productive under rigs than on reefs off the coast of California.
Life is rife beneath Platform Gilda, off the California coast (Image: Scott Gietler)

And it's not just a West Coast thing. When the Californian rigs are compared with natural marine habitats all around the world, they still boast about 10 times more fish, reports the New Scientist.

"We find that fish production rates around individual oil rigs – scaled per unit of seafloor – tend to be around 10 times higher than comparable estimates in other highly productive marine habitats such as reefs and estuaries," says Jeremy Claisse of Occidental College in Los Angeles, who led the study.

The team surveyed 16 oil or gas platforms and seven rocky reefs each year for five to 15 years, from 1995 to 2011. They counted how many fish and of what size, were associated with each habitat. From this worked out the weight of fish supported each year per square metre of sea floor in each area. To avoid overestimates, they only included fish within 2 metres of each structure that were clearly resident there, excluding fish just passing through.

They report that fish were dramatically more abundant around the rigs, which ranged in productivity from 105 to 887 grams of fish per square metre of seafloor per year. That is 27 times the comparable productivity range of the deep rocky reefs they surveyed.

Read more HERE.

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