Deep Panuke reef-effect

Amberjacks gather near the legs of the Deep Panuke production field centre offshore Nova Scotia. This photo was extracted from video footage taken as part of the Deep Panuke environmental effects monitoring program.

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Natural gas field creates habitat under the sea

Subsea surveys of the Deep Panuke field show the production platform’s legs and structures on the seabed have become new homes for a variety of marine species, including endangered fish.

Since the surveys started in 2011, data shows the diversity and abundance of wildlife at Deep Panuke has been steadily increasing.

The structures, including the natural gas export pipeline, wellheads and related protection structures, are first colonized by species such as blue mussel, sea cucumber, anemone, and sea star. Fish and crustaceans then move in to what was previously a relatively featureless sandy seafloor. Fish (schools of Atlantic cod and jacks, pollock, haddock, hake, herring, and redfish) as well as crustaceans (including snow crabs, Jonah crabs and large American lobsters) have been observed around the platform.

This reef and refuge effect was predicted in the environmental assessment conducted in 2006, and has been documented by the annual environmental effects monitoring program. The data is analyzed by trained biologists at McGregor Geoscience who identify and record all marine fauna observed in the videos captured by an ROV (remotely–operated vehicle), and calculate abundance values for each species or species groups.

Occasionally, larger visitors have been identified such as a Torpedo ray, Blue shark, Porbeagle shark (an endangered species), a curious pod of dolphins and even a breaching Humpback whale. This data is included in our annual environmental effects monitoring report submitted to the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board.

Deep Panuke is located in 44 metres of water about 250 kilometres off the coast of Nova Scotia. Learn more about environmental monitoring at Deep Panuke.

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