How Oil Industry Robots Can Help Scientists Explore the Deep Sea

Date: May 3, 2018

Source: Oceans Deeply
Author: Paul Tullis

Researchers often can’t afford to send remotely operated vehicles to the far reaches of the ocean. Now they’re collaborating with business to take advantage of discoveries made by ROVs deployed by oil and gas companies.

A CUSK EEL hides under a black coral for hours, emerging for only a minute at a time before returning to its den. A hammerhead shark skims the ocean floor more than 1,000m (3,400ft) beneath the surface – the deepest observation of the species ever recorded. These are just two of the remarkable discoveries made by remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) deployed by the Shell Oil Group’s drillship Deepsea Metro 1 in the western Indian Ocean, off the coast of Tanzania. Images from the ROVs have ended up in peer-reviewed scientific journals in recent years.

Now researchers from Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, drawing on the knowledge of ROV operators delivered at a workshop last year in Perth, Australia, have outlined scientific research priorities that can be addressed using industry-owned machines, in a new study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment

“The paper was a chance for us as a team to think about what we’d discovered and what we could be discovering in the future,” said Peter Macreadie, associate professor of environmental science at Deakin University in Australia and lead author of the study. “In the past it’s been ad hoc, but this was about coming together in a more strategic way.”

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