Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Studies show that rockfish thrive with offshore platforms as their home base

03.07.2006
While some observers consider offshore oil and gas platforms to be an eyesore on the horizon, new data shows they are performing a critical function for marine life.

For the first time, scientists have documented the importance of oil and gas platforms as critical nursery habitat for some species of rockfishes on the California coast. Two articles documenting the importance of the platforms are published in the current issue of Fisheries Bulletin, with lead authors from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Available on-line at http://fishbull.noaa.gov/, Fisheries Bulletin is a quarterly publication of the U.S. government that is sent out worldwide.


Rockfish thrive with offshore platforms as their home base. Credit: UCSB

The rockfish species called bocaccio (Sebastes paucipinis), which can live up to 50 years, was, until recently, an economically important rockfish species along the West Coast of North America and was abundant from Oregon to northern Baja California. Overfishing has reduced the stock to less than one-tenth of its former population, according to Milton S. Love, a marine biologist with UCSB's Marine Science Institute (MSI). However, the platforms are helping to restore this species.

"This is the first time that we have solid evidence that platforms can be critical habitat for rebuilding some species of rockfishes," said Love.

Love's article reports that, in 2003, his research team conducted fish surveys around eight oil and gas platforms off Southern California in the Santa Barbara Channel using a manned research submarine. There are 27 oil and gas platforms along the California coast and approximately 6,000 worldwide.

From the 2003 surveys, the research team estimated that a minimum of 430,000
juvenile bocaccio took up residence at the eight structures. The researchers determined that the 430,000 juveniles equal about 20 percent of the average number of juvenile bocaccio that survive annually for the geographic range of the species. "When these juveniles become adults, they will contribute about one percent of the additional amount of fish needed to rebuild the Pacific Coast population," wrote the authors.

Through regional scuba surveys, the researchers found that in 2003 the population of juvenile bocaccio using natural reefs as near-shore nursery grounds was small by comparison to the populations at the platforms.

According to the researchers, juvenile rockfish need something hard, like a rock overhang or a man-made structure, to "settle out" and develop a home base. Then they join a school and swim around their structure. The school helps to protect them from predators. Staying in one place allows them to eat the plankton that drift by in the ocean currents. If the juveniles were to drift out to sea with the currents, they would likely be eaten by predators, or starve to death once they ate all the nearby plankton floating with them. The platforms provide structures that the rockfishes need to thrive.

"Natural reefs are small," said Love, "and before the time the fish finds one it often gets eaten." By contrast, platforms cover the entire water column.

Brian M. Emery, a physical oceanographer with MSI, is the lead author of a second paper which reports on ocean currents in the region of Point Conception to Point Arguello, north of the Santa Barbara Channel and near Platform Irene. The results of a study of ocean currents, using high frequency radar, show that Platform Irene almost certainly increases the survival of young bocaccio in this region. The study was conducted twice, in 1999 and 2002, from May through August, the season when young bocaccio settle out.

Emery explained that the research team used radar equipment housed at three locations along the coast and provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the W.M. Keck foundation.

The results showed that, on average, about three-quarters of the young bocaccio settling around Platform Irene would not survive in the absence of the platform. Rather, the prevailing currents would move them offshore where they would have a very low probability of survival.

"Platform location, local current patterns, and natural habitat distribution determine the balance between settlement at a specific platform and settlement on natural habitat," wrote the authors. "These results indicate that knowledge of regional ocean circulation patterns is essential for evaluating the effects of oil production platforms or other artificial habitats on dispersal pathways of juvenile fishes."

Milton Love | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://fishbull.noaa.gov
http://www.lifesci.ucsb.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Scientists on the road to discovering impact of urban road dust
18.01.2018 | University of Alberta

nachricht Gran Chaco: Biodiversity at High Risk
17.01.2018 | Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

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: Optical Nanoscope Allows Imaging of Quantum Dots

Physicists have developed a technique based on optical microscopy that can be used to create images of atoms on the nanoscale. In particular, the new method allows the imaging of quantum dots in a semiconductor chip. Together with colleagues from the University of Bochum, scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute reported the findings in the journal Nature Photonics.

Microscopes allow us to see structures that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. However, conventional optical microscopes cannot be used to image...

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists have learned to change the wavelength of Tamm plasmons

24.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

When the eyes move, the eardrums move, too

24.01.2018 | Health and Medicine

Deaf children learn words faster than hearing children

24.01.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>