Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Oil companies help marine biologists to explore new frontiers in deep-sea oceanography

27.09.2005


An idea from a young marine biologist at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton is revolutionising oceanography in the deep oceans. Dr Ian Hudson has been getting the oil industry to sign up to a project that has captured the imagination of companies and oceanographers across the world.



Animals in the deep oceans are now being filmed using robotic vehicles and cameras operated by oil companies. As they seek out new oil reserves on the deep-sea floor or carry out maintenance work, these companies are teaming up with scientists to capture shots of animals never seen before and discover new science.

This global collaboration is called the SERPENT Project - Scientific and Environmental Rov* Partnership using Existing iNdustrial Technology.


’The results have been incredible, far beyond our original expectations,’ said Dr Hudson. ’We have seen new species, found animals in areas where they were believed not to be present, but most importantly we have been able to observe their behaviour in their natural habitats. There are over 400 oil rigs worldwide - all with the potential to help science explore the oceans. We are working with companies that represent over 200 of them.’

Dr Hudson features in Little Geek, a programme to be shown on BBC World’s Earth Report this week (Tuesday 27th September 16.30 GMT Wednesday 28th 01.30 and 07.30 GMT). Little Geek was the name of the robot camera in James Cameron’s film The Abyss. Cameron, the director of Titanic appears in the documentary. He regularly sends footage of strange animals to scientists to be identified and says ’That’s my favourite game - stump the experts!’

As Dr Hudson explains, ’The SERPENT project has given scientists around the world a privileged view of science in the deep. And it’s not just the scientists working on the rigs. When we find something unusual we can email footage to specialists around the world for their advice and expertise. The other great advantage of SERPENT is that we get to see animals behaving in their own habitats and we have documented their behavioural traits at depths from 100 to over 3000 metres.

’Working with Woodside, Australia’s largest oil producer, off the coast of Western Australia we have filmed frogfish -deep-sea anglerfish that walk instead of swim. It would have been very difficult to discover this fact from capturing them in a net!’

Following the growing success of the SERPENT project, two giants from the oil industry are hosting international biodiversity conferences next October. This represents a real effort to understand the deep sea and its huge biodiversity.

The first conference, 5th-7th October 2005, is the Deep Sea Biodiversity Symposium to be hosted by TOTAL at Port Cros in France. Oceanographers from the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, the US and Europe will be addressing the conference, which will be attended by oil chiefs and UN representatives. It is intended that this will launch a new programme to help science and industry work together to survey the deep ocean before it is explored for oil. This is the only way to measure the impact the industry has on deep-sea environment.

Later in the month, 12th-14th October 2005, the IADC, International Association of Drilling Contractors, the world’s largest body of gas and oil exploration companies, are meeting for a conference in Stvanger, Norway that addresses the issue of exploring and drilling for oil in environmentally sensitive areas. This is the first time the IADC have chosen the environment as their key conference issue.

Dr Hudson feels the project is not only changing the way the industry thinks about oceanography but the way science itself is conducted. He said, ’Off the Ninagaloo Reef, Western Australia, scientists working with Woodside have seen a strange jelly-nosed fish that has never been recorded before. Ironically, it is not until these animals have been caught and preserved that they can be officially recognised and named - it’s a hangover from the early days of natural science when specimens were rigorously collected and displayed. So although the scientists may film a new species it cannot be formally named until it is captured and dead, even though its very existence might be endangered. We’re hoping modern robotic technology will help us to describe more and more species, gaining valuable information about their distribution and life history.’

*ROV - Remotely Operated Vehicles

Sarah Watts | alfa
Further information:
http://www.soton.ac.uk

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>