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 Waste in the water – New purification techniques for healthier aquatic ecosystems
24.07.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

nachricht Plenty of habitat for bears in Europe
24.07.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

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: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>