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Fish like to hang out at offshore oil platforms

Researchers in California have found that offshore oil and natural gas platforms make productive fish habitats.


Researchers in California have found that offshore oil and natural gas platforms make productive fish habitats.

Anecdotal evidence had suggested that fish like to congregate around the drilling rigs — which is ironic given the oil and gas industry’s poor environmental reputation.

Now, a study published in the Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences reported findings of a team that monitored seven natural reefs of the coast of California and 16 platforms for between five and 15 years.

The researchers visually counted the number and size of the fish to see if they were just passing through or actually living around the rigs. They found that the weight of fish ranged from 105 to 887 grams of fish per square metre of seabed per year, which was 27 times bigger than the number in the natural reefs.

According to phys.org which summarized the findings, other reefs around the world show a similar productivity around offshore oil rigs. Phys.org’s report says: “The results weren’t really a surprise, of course, because unlike natural reefs, the platforms cover the entire distance from seabed to surface, offering far more surface area.”

Apparently some people are suggesting that because of their ecological benefits, the platforms should be topped off rather than dismantled at the end of their service lives. However, the platforms’ fish-breeding advantages have to be weighed against the piles of sludge and debris that tend to pile up at their bases.

To see the report in phys.org, click here