An oil rig offshore of Surfside, California (Credit: Neil Kremer, via Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0)
With events like the Deepwater Horizon spill still fresh in the world’s collective memory, it’s not hard to see the oil rig as an insular time bomb, ticking toward inevitable calamity. But new research shows that fish flock to the undersides of rigs, where their vertical substructure acts as an underwater skyscraper, New Scientist reported.
A submarine study of rigs off the coast of California found that fish production rates are 27 times higher under those rigs than in nearby reefs. Compared to all the world’s natural marine habitats, fish under the rigs are 10 times more productive.
The rigs’ substructure crosses through the entire water column, providing plenty of surface area for invertebrates and coral to stake out a home. Floating plankton offer further food for aquatic animals.
Image: An oil rig offshore of Surfside, California (Credit: Neil Kremer, via Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0)