Project title: Environmental assessment of deep-water sponge fields in relation to oil and gas activity: a west of Shetland case study
Project funding: NERC CDT in Oil & Gas, Oil and Gas UK
Supervisors: Dr Ted Henry (HWU), Prof J Murray Roberts (UEDIN) and Sophie Green (BGS)
Constituting the phylum Porifera, sponges are filter-feeding organisms that perform a number of ecological functions. Widely distributed and diverse, they can form high density fields, supporting complex macrofaunal communities. They can also host an array of microorganisms. Deep-water sponge fields are now considered Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems and Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas. Their sensitivity to oil extraction activities in the Faroe-Shetland Channel Marine Protected Area (FSC MPA) where sponges are present close to offshore operations consequently needs to be investigated.
My PhD project aim at:
- Completing a visual surveys of sponge density and occurrence in the FSC MPA
- Conducting experimental exposures to determine sponge response to oil/oil dispersant mixtures;
- Analysing microbial community of deep-water sponges in the FSC MPA and specifically testing for the presence of oil degrading bacteria.