Marine Life Talk – 1 March 2012

Collecting water from the CTD

Ecosystem effects of deep-water oil well blowouts – 19.30pm at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton –

by Charlie Main

Deep-water oil well blowouts can bring large quantities of hydrocarbons into contact with the seabed and hence the seafloor (benthic) ecosystem.

The substantial quantities of oil observed on the deep seafloor after the Deepwater Horizon incident (Gulf of Mexico) gave us direct evidence of this. Such events result in unknown and un-quantified impacts on the way deep-sea organisms interact with their environment, in other words, on ecosystem function. Estimating the response of biota to human disturbances of this kind is necessary in order to fully resolve our understanding of processes in both the deep-sea environment and wider oceanic ecosystem.

How can we predict potential effects of large-scale, deepwater oil spills in other areas of concern where deepwater drilling is taking place? This talk will describe some of the work that is being done here at NOC to address the enormous task of evaluating effects of accidental oil releases on ecosystem function (how organisms interact, regulating substances like oxygen and carbon) and ecosystem services (the benefits we derive). The work includes novel applications of models, experiments and data collection in the field.

Charlie Main graduated from NOC in 2005 (Oceanography with Marine Biology) and went on to do a Masters by Research in Marine Science at the University of Aberdeen. Following this, she worked as a scientist in South Georgia in the Southern Ocean for the British Antarctic Survey, returning in 2008 to work for the Scottish Government, again in Aberdeen. She is now about 18 months into PhD studies here at the NOC .

Future Marine Life Talks at the National Oceanography Centre

05/04/12 t.b.c.

03/05/12 Solent Aliens – Moira Maclean

Free admission – these talks are open to the public – please sign-in outside the Lecture Theatre upstairs on Level 4.

The Marine Life Talks are held on the first Thursday of the month at 7.30pm, please arrive at 7.15pm.

The talks are accessible via stairs or a lift. Since the lift cannot be used in an emergency, evacuation of less able visitors is down the stairs via an evacuation chair. You are therefore required to notify us in advance of the presence of a wheelchair user or anyone with access issues likely to require use of an evacuation chair.

The National Oceanography Centre is reached via Dock Gate 4 (between Southampton’s Town Quay and Ocean Village).

February’s talk ‘Why are corals colourful?’ by Ed Smith is available (on YouTube).

Event dates: 
Thursday 1 March 2012 - 19:15 to 20:30