How can oil rigs be good for marine life? | MNN

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Decommissioned structures provide a surprising chance for growth.

Life always finds a way  even when man-made items invade a natural environment. (Photo: Richard Whitcombe/Shutterstock)

Our relationship with the ocean is decidedly complicated. We rely on it for food but allow oil-filled vessels to sail through it. We look to it for energy but inadvertently pollute it, either with toxins or noise.

Think about structures like decommissioned oil rigs and shipwrecks that dot the ocean floor. These man-made structures don't belong there in fact, their initial presence was incredibly disruptive. But over time, they become a part of the ecosystem. Not only has life adopted to their presence, but the structures themselves are giving back to the environment.

In fact, these man-made structures could represent a unique conservation opportunity, helping marine life become more resilient to climate change and habitat loss by creating new and bigger neighborhoods, according to study published in Scientific Reports.

Part of their world

Looking at ocean rigs and shipwrecks in the North Sea, researchers from the University of Edinburgh used computer modeling to determine how marine life might use these abandoned structures and vessels as a way to flourish. Researchers used the cold-water, slow-growing coral Lophelia pertusa as their example for the study. Using network theory metrics, they sought to determine the extent to which L. pert....

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