Per a new study, an undersea survey conducted in west of Africa, off the coast of Angola, resulted in the discovery of a variety and richness of species on the deep-sea floor increasing in response to pipeline installation.
The findings were published in a journal titled ‘Frontiers in Marine Science’. The study revealed an increase in the litter amount on the seafloor, which had been trapped against the pipeline.
Collaboration between the oil and gas industry and deep-sea researchers, the study emerged from a routine inspection of the pipeline and the seafloor.
There is a long-running collaboration with BP in Angola to utilize survey resource material for research purposes, explained the co-author of the study, Andrew Gates, based at the National Oceanography Centre.
The video was taken by a remotely operated, car-sized vehicle popular as the ROV. An ROV is a robot that operates under the sea and can be controlled by an umbilical cable that is linked to a vessel on the surface.
A group of researchers, with the help of video footage collected by the ROV, identified the animals they were able to see. This included starfish, sea cucumbers, fishes, and anemones.
Gates explained that the study offers valuable information on the not-so-well-known seafloor animals living off the Angolan coast. Besides, studies like these help predict the likely consequences and management of a range of human activities in the deep ocean, including oil and gas extractions and decommissioning of marine structures such as oil rigs. The information helps understand the potential for marine environment restoration after they’ve been impacted or impaired by human activities.
Potentially new species
Sometime in the future, researchers wish to go back to collect some animals they have seen in the video. Gates added that it is typically not possible to identify animals from images to a species level, as one cannot see the distinctive details. However, they are expecting that some of the animals thriving in the area are likely to be new to science, and by making collections we would be able to describe and determine the species found.
Jones added that they’d want to continue monitoring the pipeline to see how the animals respond with time to the presence of the structure. As time passes, they are expecting to see impressive animals, like the deep-sea sponges and corals, growing on the structure. Knowing how long the process takes would be priceless.
References: The Print, PHYS ORG, EurekAlert