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Andrew Guerin, Dr Daniel Jones, Dr Janne Kaariainen, Nina Rothe and Tania Smith,National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

Ian Wallace, Video Ray (Atlantis Marine)

Deep sea biological research using remotely operated vehicles

Researchers from the University of Southampton based at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, are working with industry to monitor the effects of deep-sea drilling on marine life.

""The deep sea is an inhospitable place, where food is scarce and marine life has been forced to adapt to survive. There has been relatively little exploration undertaken there, so the effects of drilling for oil and gas can not be estimated,” says Dr Daniel Jones from the University of Southampton.
Industry and academia have launched the SERPENT project, to address the need for scientific exploration and monitoring of these ecosystems. Scientists are utilising hundreds of industrial Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) to conduct scientific experiments and surveys in deep-sea environments around the world.

The scientists monitor these ecosystems before and after drilling commences and record the number and diversity of animals in the environment to measure deep-sea drilling effects.

“The benefits of this collaboration are two-fold. By working with industry, scientists are able to access a worldwide network of ROVs to study this delicate ecosystem,” explains Daniel. ”We are then able to feed back our findings to the drilling industry to encourage best practice. It’s a win-win situation.”