Lophelia pertusa conservation in the North Sea using obsolete offshore structures as artificial reefs

Marine Ecology Progress Series 516 (2014): 275-280.

Authors: Paulina Bergmark and Dolly Jørgensen

ABSTRACT: Deep-water coral reefs are classified as vulnerable marine ecosystems, with trawling identified as the primary cause of reef destruction. Lophelia pertusa is the main reef-building species in deep-water coral reefs. In addition to occurring on natural hard substrates, the species has been previously observed on standing offshore oil and gas structures in the North Sea. In this study, we review the available published information about Lophelia growth on standing offshore oil and gas industry structures in the North Sea. We discuss the potential uses of obsolete offshore structures repurposed as artificial reefs for targeted Lophelia habitat. Our survey of previous studies indicates that artificial reefs created from obsolete structures have a strong potential to form Lophelia reef communities similar to those found on natural substrates, although the absence of the polychaete worm Eunice norvegica poses some concerns about the completeness of the coral communities that develop on artificial reef structures.

Note: I supervised Paulina’s master’s thesis which we turned into this article together.

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