Whirlwind Recovery


Images | Videos




Whirlwind (UK well 205/21a-5), Faroe-Shetland Channel, West of Shetland

Position: 60°11’13.738” N  003°50’19.071” W
Depth: 184m
Water Temperature: 10.8° C
Dates: 4th-12th September and 16th-25th October 2011


Industry Partners

Gas & Oil Company Hurricane Exploration (HEX)
Rig: Wilphoenix
ROV Operator: Fugro
ROV Super Spartan & SeaEye Falcon

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This was the latest in a series of SERPENT missions to this area, west of Shetland. In collaboration with Hurricane 6 visits have now been made to the Lancaster and Whirlwind sites. We have gathered large amounts of video and many photographs of the megafaunal organisms of the area, much of which is shown on the SERPENT archive.

The aim during these visits to Whirlwind was to use video survey techniques to investigate how the benthic megafaunal species diversity has changed in the year since the initial visits to the site. During this time the disturbance to the seabed has ceased so this gives us the opportunity to look for evidence of recovery or recolonization of the site.

A protective structure as placed over the well at the end of the operations in 2011. We used ROV video and photography to document the organisms that have colonized this structure in the year since its deployment.

Physical Data

Seabed currents

At Whirlwind the current was tidally reversing and the data are shown below (blue = current speed, red = current direction):

Biological Data

The images and video from all the work at the Lancaster and Whirlwind sites can be viewed on the SERPENT archive database.


The video surveys showed evidence of recolonization of the seabed close to the well. Spionid polychaetes had settled on the drill cuttings that remained at the seabed. They can be seen in this image of a seastar:


Close to one of SERPENT's marker buoys, used to document the vertical depth of drill cuttings at the seabed, we observe a Greater Forkbeard (Phycis blennoides):


Some interesting residents had moved in to the protective “overtrawl” structure that had been at the seabed for a year. There were at least 10 European Conger (Conger conger) making use of the structure:


Numerous other species were recorded living in and around the protective structure. It had initially been colonized by hydroids, the brown weed-like material. A montage of images of the species observed at the protective structure is shown here. a) spider crab such as Inachus, b) Stalked barnacle, c) Nudibranch, d) Blenny, e) Seastar, possibly Stichastrella sp., f) seastar – Porania pulvillus, g) Decapod prawns (Lebbeus polaris?), h) Redfish, possibly Sebastes sp., i) edible crab – Canver pagurus, j) serpulid polychaete worms, k) European Conger – Conger conger, l) unclear, possibly saddle oysters (Anomiidae).


For further information please contact:
Dr Andrew Gates , SERPENT Project, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, UK.

or Dr Daniel Jones , SERPENT Project, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, UK

Brugdan location map Dr Andrew Gates

About Andy
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T: +44 (0)2380 596363
E: arg3@noc.soton.ac.uk