News Archive 2

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10 November 2011 - Mission Report from West of Shetland

A new mission report has been uploaded describing Andrew Gates' recent visit to the Wilphoenix to study changes to the megafaunal assemblage a year after the well was initially drilled. As well as the work on disturbance there were some fascinating observations of conger eels living within a protective structure on the seabed.

Visit the mission pages to find out more. See Whirlwind Recovery in the United Kingdom section.

SERPENT at the Shell stand

The INDEEP meeting

3 October 2011 - SERPENT at the WCMB

Andrew Gates and Kerstin Kröger attended the World Conference on Marine Biodiversity in Aberdeen last week. Kerstin and Andrew presented SERPENT on conference sponsor, Shell's stand in the exhibition area. Andrew and Kerstin gave short talks from the stand about SERPENT's current work and discussed future collaboration with many scientists at the event.

SERPENT and other organisations took part in lively panel discussions organised by Shell about science collaborating with industry to study the oceans.

During the conference SERPENT and the INDEEP WG3 met with Transocean for an update and to continue discussions on the population connectivity project.

INDEEP meeint participants

1 August 2011 - SERPENT working with INDEEP

Members of the WG3 INDEEP group and SERPENT met in the New Forest, UK on 13th & 14th July to discuss plans for an exciting new venture to study connectivity on a global scale.

Meeting participants:  Anna Metaxas, Dan Jones, Andrew Gates, Annie Mercier, Ana Hilario, Paul Tyler, Sven Thatje, Maria Baker, Eva Ramirez-Llodra, Pedro Riberio.  Input was also given from members of WG3 who were unable to attend the meeting

For further information, about INDEEP visit

7:30 programme

6 July 2011 - SERPENT on Australian TV

Australian ABC TV's national flagship current affairs program "7:30" featured Prof. David Booth and Dr Peter Macreadie commenting on the controversial question of whether Australia’s offshore petroleum structures should be converted into artificial reefs (‘rigs-to-reefs’) and highlighting the importance of the deep sea SERPENT program. Broadcast on Wed 6th July 2011. Watch on ABC!

Deep Sea Life Book

24 January 2011 - SERPENT book out now!

A new book about the deep sea life of Scotland and Norway has just been published. This book features the best SERPENT images from this unique and diverse deep water area. It is one of the first true species guides for the deep sea and features a detailed introduction to the area, high-quality colour photographs and in depth taxonomic and ecological information on the animals of the area. This book represents nearly ten years of regular observations by the authors and is a treasure-trove of information on the deep marine life of the region. Available now!

02 December 2010 - SERPENT activity at three sites off the coast of Shetland

In recent months the SERPENT team have been to three sites off the coast of Shetland: Lancaster, Lagavulin and Whirlwind where SERPENT have carried out investiagtions and collected both physical and biological data. Industrial ROV's were used to deploy time laspe cameras, take sediment samples and deploy baited traps to asses the disturbance caused by drilling and also to investigate the recovery of sites once drilling has stopped. Both video and stills images were collected at all three sites, some speciemens were also collected and frozen to be further analaysed back in the lab.

There have been many species encountered at the sites, both Lancaster and Whirlwind showed a high similarity in species present at both sites. Images and details of the species found at the sites are avalibale in the Media Archive

Full details of all the SERPENT missions can be found here

25 November 2010 - SERPENT image used in BBC 2's "Autumnwatch Unsprung"

A SERPENT image of a monkfish seen this year at Whirlwind, West of Shetland was featured in the final episode BBC 2's "Autumnwatch Unsprung" series. The episode can be seen online on BBC iplayer

The image is 9 minutes 5 seconds into the programme.

More images from Whirlwind are available in our database


20 October 2010 - SERPENT presentation on environmental monitoring offshore Norway

Dr. Andrew Gates presented data from SERPENT's work in Norway at the Forum for Environmental Monitoring held in Oslo at the Climate and Pollution Agency

The presentation is available online

28 July 2010 - SERPENT welcomes new team member

The SERPENT project would like to welcome Dr Kerstin Kröger Dr Kerstin Kröger as the newest member of the team, Kersitn who is orginally hails from germany, has come to us via Norway. Where she worked on the MAREANO project and prior to that spent ten years in New Zealand working for various scentific organisations.


Stygiomedusa jelly

28 April 2010 - SERPENT sighting of giant jellyfish makes BBC news

SERPENT footage of Stygiomedusa gigantea filmed in the Gulf of Mexico has been reported by the BBC

The records are available on our online database


22 April 2010 - Accident on the Deepwater Horizon

During the night of April 20, 2010, the Transocean rig Deepwater Horizon underwent a catastrophic accident that resulted in an explosion and fire that left 11 crew members missing and others severely injured.

Deepwater Horizon, working under contract to BP Exploration and Production, is one of the Gulf SERPENT partner sites. Since 2006, the Oceaneering E-MAG ROV on the Horizon has collected countless hours of stunning images of marine life from the depths of the Gulf.

We are gratified to learn that the ROV Team headed by Darren Costello are safe and uninjured. Our thoughts are with the families of the missing and we look forward to news of their safe rescue.


2 March 2010 - Lecture at Ballard School

Dr. Andrew Gates visited Ballard School in Hampshire to speak about SERPENT in their Spring Term Lecutre Series. The evening was popular with students and parents alike from Ballard and other local schools.

Andrew introduced the group to the deep sea around the UK and further afield and took along some unusual specimens and sampling equipment for the students to see. As part of the evening there was a question and answer session about careers in which Andrew offered advice to those wishing to follow a scientific career path.

Rob Curry

So long and thanks for all the fish!

26 Feb 2010 - Last day for SERPENT Outreach Co-ordinator

Today is the last day of work for Rob Curry who has been the SERPENT Outreach Co-ordinator for the last two years. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the collaborators and partners of the project which it has been by great pleasure and privelege to work with.

I will continue to work at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (NOC) providing outreach resources. Please note that our collaboration with the Natural History Summer blockbuster "The Deep" will continue and keep your eyes on the press and online to have a chance to visit this exciting show which will feature an ROV from Oceaneering as well as information about the SERPENT project and NOC.

Daniel Jones will be the outreach contact for now, and you can contact him directly by using our feedback form.


Tripod fish image - watch the movie

A tripod fish Bathypterois sp. swims lazily away from the ROV, then decides to turn and have a look.

Watch the movie


12 Feb 2010 - New footage/images from Brazil

Exciting footage and images of animals found in the deep waters between 906 m and 1443 m offshore Brazil have come into the SERPENT project offices recently. ROV pilot Iain Cruikshank on a Technip vessel came across the creatures on routine maintenance missions and sent us these great images and videos. We were able to help him with identification. Thanks Iain!

If you are a ROV pilot or have authorised access to video or images of creatures in the deep ocean, we really want to hear from you.

See all the images and video in the archive page

Oarfish image - visit the BBC web site


08 Feb 2010 - Gulf SERPENT giant oarfish and manefish article on BBC site.

BBC News profiled two discoveries on their website today: the oarfish from Thunder Horse and the manefish from Ocean Confidence. Discovery Channel is also going to feature the oarfish. The BBC told me that this story was the third most viewed and linked story on their entire website. Thanks to everyone aboard the two sites and in particular, the Innovator 19 team on Thunder Horse and the Oceaneering Team aboard Ocean Confidence.
Professor Mark Benfield of Gulf SERPENT at Louisiana State University.

Read the article at

Related links:
Mark Benfield's recent paper on the manefish.
The Gulf SERPENT latest newsletter.
About BP's Thunder Horse facility
About the Ocean Confidence rig


Twitter Logo image


04 Feb 2010 - SERPENT is now available on Twitter.

Keep up to date with all the latest SERPENT deep sea research news by following the SERPENT project on Twitter.

Visit the SERPENT Twitter page now!

Map image


11 Jan 2010 - New Site Map available on this website

Bloody Henry Seastar image

A Bloody Henry seastar at 600m in the West of Shetland. UK

Find out more...

7 Jan 2010 - SERPENT adds important new insights on the contribution of echinoderms to ocean carbon storage

Population density data and samples collected by the SERPENT project have been incorporated into a large, global study on the contribution of echinoderms (such as seastars, sea urchins and brittlestars) to carbon capture in marine sediments. The report, published in the journal ESA Ecological Monographs, shows that, worldwide, echinoderms capture around 0.1 gigatonnes of carbon per year. This is less than the global capture resulting from pelagic organisms, a figure that ranges from 0.4 to 1.8 gigatonnes depending on the sources considered, but still represents a sizeable carbon pump. By comparison, human activities lead to around 5.5 gigatonnes of carbon being pumped into the air every year.

Read the article

Intech logo - visit the web site
10 December 2009 - SERPENT presentation at the First Lego League Challenge at Intech

The Intech Interactive Science Centre near Winchester, Hampshire, played host to the First Lego League Challenge, a Lego robot building competition for local school teams. SERPENT outreach co-ordinator Rob Curry was invited to present a show entitled “Robots get wet” that highlighted the work of the SERPENT project by focusing on the ROVs we use in our deep sea research work. !60 students and school staff enjoyed the 30 minute presentation and asked lots of questions about the project.

Visit Intech

Louisiana State University logo - visit the web site
20 November 2009 - Louisiana State University hosts SERPENT talk

Daniel Jones gave a guest lecture on SERPENT findings at Louisiana State University (LSU), Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Gulf SERPENT is based at the LSU. Read the latest Gulf SERPENT newsletter here.

Oceaneering logo - visit the web site 
19 November 2009 - SERPENT UK and Gulf SERPENT in joint visit to Oceaneering

SERPENT scientists Daniel Jones and Mark Benfield visited the Oceaneering ROV production and training facility at Morgan City, Louisiana.

Mark Benfield stands next to the towering Oceaneering Magnum ROV deployment cage Dan Jones poses by the deep sea NEWT diving submersible

Left: Mark Benfield next to the towering Oceaneering Magnum ROV deployment cage.
Right: Dan Jones poses by the deep sea NEWT diving submersible.


Visit the Manchester Science Festival web site
20 -21 October 2009 - SERPENT at Manchester Science Festival

Year 8 students from schools in the West Midlands had the opportunity to take the controls of our Marine Simulation ROVsim™ Deep Seas Simulator at the vibrant Manchester Science Festival. As part of this exciting and high profile event, the "Speedy Science" schools’ programme ran for two days from 20 to 21 October. Taking place in the unlikely location of the Pure nightclub at the Printworks in central Manchester over two days, schools were offered free places to attend a day of activity. The students enjoyed hands-on workshops, a science show and asked lots of questions on the SERPENT stand.

With many thanks to the British Science Association for supporting SERPENT at this event.


Fifth Total Port-Cros Symposium logo
Fondation Total logo - visit the web site

7 - 9 October 2009 - SERPENT attends the Total Port Cros Symposium

SERPENT scientist Daniel Jones attended the 5th Fondation Total Port Cros Symposium on Marine Biodiversity, Porquerolles, France.

The Port-Cros symposium is intended to help raise awareness and provide information on biodiversity, with a view to identifying the important issues, as well as the measures necessary to preserve this vital heritage. The symposiums take place on the Ile of Porquerolles in the Mediterranean, off France. This venue represents a model in sustainable stewardship of marine resources.

The purpose of the symposium is to focus on a specific topic linked to marine biodiversity; a multidisciplinary issue is selected so as elicit a rich variety of points of view.

Visit the web site


Biodiversity of the Santos Basin Conference logo
Image of Christ the Redeemer, Rio
Santos Basin map22 -23 September 2009 - SERPENT at the Biodiversidade Bacia de Santos in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The Biodiversidade Bacia de Santos (Biodiversity of the Santos Basin) Conference was organised by Repsol and BG to initiate discussions toward collaborative environmental monitoring in the Santos Basin as hydrocarbon exploration increases in the area. The SERPENT project, which was represented by Dr Andrew Gates, and DELOS (Deep-ocean Environmental Long-term Observatory System), based at the University of Aberdeen, had the opportunity to highlight the international experience of collaboration with oil and gas. There was enthusiasm about both projects. The visit was successful in raising the profile of both the SERPENT and DELOS projects among oil and gas companies in South America.


Visit the British Science Festival web site
11 September 2009 - SERPENT is a hit at the British Science festival

The SERPENT project had an exciting and productive 6 days engaging with the public and schools at the British Science Festival in Guildford this week. Organised by the British Science Association it's one of Europe's largest science festivals that offers the latest in science, technology and engineering. The event ran from Saturday 5 - Thursday 10 September 2009 and showcased more than 350 of the most exciting and innovative science in the UK.



Visit the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition web site. Opens a new window


30 June - 4 July 2009 - SERPENT at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition

What a week! The SERPENT project has been very popular with a constant stream of visitors hugely enjoying our amazing Marine Simulation ROVsim™ Deep Seas Simulator. I suspect the comfy racing chair on the simulator helped - most visitors were really grateful to take the weight off after wandering around the upstairs exhibits and especially on the hotter days, loved the cool of our downstairs exhibition area.



Thomas Hardye school logo image


26 June 2009 - SERPENT at Thomas Hardye School Science Fair

For the second year running, the SERPENT project exhibited at the Thomas Hardye School Science Fair in Dorchester. About 300 children from the age of 15 - 18 had an opportunity to collect specimens using our SERPENT ROVsim® simulator designed by Marine Simulation LLC™. The children, from three local schools were hugely enthusiastic and were brimming with relevant questions about the environment of the deep oceans and the SERPENT project.


NOCS logo
19 June 2009 - Local schools visit NOCS in Oceans on Wheels event

Several local schools in the Hampshire and Dorset area visited the National Oceanography Centre today to enjoy the Oceans on Wheels roadshow. The children, excited and enthusiastic year 8 - 9 students found the SERPENT exhibit an irresistible draw and were reluctant to move on.


The Times Cheltenham Science festival logo image


5 - 7 June 2009 - SERPENT makes a splash at the Times Cheltenham Science Festival

Described as a "Mind-tingling feast of debate and entertainment", the Cheltenham Science Festival in the UK hosted the SERPENT project as part of the University of Southampton's "Oceans on Wheels" Roadshow. For three days at the beginning of June, SERPENT presented at the exciting and bustling Discovery Zone. Patient queues of children (along with some adults!) were rewarded with an opportunity to pilot a deep sea ROV using the SERPENT ROVsim® simulator designed by Marine Simulation LLC™. SERPENT teams were able to discuss the project with adults and children alike who were amazed at the huge diversity of the creatures found in the deep ocean and fascinated by the research being undertaken by the SERPENT project.



IADC 2009 conference logo image


12 May 2009 - SERPENT presents to IADC

SERPENT scientist Dr Andrew Gates today gave a presentation entitled "Effects of Drilling on Deep-Water Seabed Communities" to the International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC) at the 2009 IADC Environmental Conference & Exhibition at the Clarion Hotel in Stevanger, Norway.

The conference covered all aspects of drilling on the environment from CO2 emissions to invasive species and oil rigs with the work of SERPENT covering much of the subject of sea bed impacts.

Andrew spoke about how effects are evaluated across a range of scales: from effects to individual organisms to effects to whole communities. The data obtained on metabolic changes in a common starfish shows the value of small-scale experimental assessments in understanding broad effects. A synthesis of broad-scale community data shows common effects across the northern North Atlantic. In addition, data on recovery of communities from drilling after three and ten years has shown evidence of partial recovery after 10 years. The effects of areas with deep cuttings and cement were also discussed.

The presentation generated interest from numerous parties about the work of the SERPENT project.

Visit the web site


Queen Mary's College logo image


21 April 2009 - SERPENT at Queen Mary's college

Around 300 year 12 students at Queen Mary's College in Basingstoke, UK, had an exciting opportunity to have a go with the SERPENT Deep Sea Simulator today when the Oceans on Wheels Roadshow again unveiled it's fascinating range of deep sea science projects. The students developed skills by collecting specimens from the seafloor using the ROVsim® simulator designed and supplied by Marine Simulation LLC™ and learned about the work of the SERPENT project.


FLIPSIDE magazine front cover image


19 March 2009 - SERPENT in FLIPSIDE magazine

The SERPENT project has been featured in the exciting new FLIPSIDE magezine. Flipside is a teenager-focussed subscription-only magazine aimed at schools and colleges around the world. It is produced by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) with funding from the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA).

The article, entitled "Dark World" is about how the SERPENT project uses industrial robots to undertake deep sea research. It also contains information about the new SERPENT Deep Seas Simulator (see below).


Deep Seas Simulator in action


15 March 2009 - New SERPENT Simulator at Oceans and Earth Day 2009

SERPENT unveiled our new Deep Seas Simulator at the National Oceanography Centre at the weekend. The stand was innundated with a constant stream of children who thoroughly enjoyed trying to capture sea creatures in the virtual environment provided by the excellent ROVsim® simulation software from SERPENT partner Marine Simulation LLC™. Many thanks to Shade-a-babe for generously providing the Nomad sun shelter for the stand.



Visit the Stena Carron drillship web page


20 February - 12 March 2009 - Dr Daniel Jones visits the Stena Carron for BBC filming of the Coast programme

Dan and a BBC camera crew spent the last two weeks filming aboard the ultra modern drillship the Stena Carron in the Faroe-Shetland channel. He gathered some exciting footage using the new High Definition (HD) video camera system deployed on the Oceaneering Magnum ROV. The material will be screened in a forthcoming new edition of the popular BBCTV series "Coast".

See the mission Minisite


Visit the Transocean Leader web page


17 - 24 February 2009 - Dr Andrew Gates visits the Transocean Leader at the Asterix prospect

Dr Andrew Gates has recently returned from a successful visit to the Transocean Leader rig off the coast of Norway in the Asterix Prospect for StatoilHydro. You can see the mission report now by going to the Missions page and selecting the Asterix mission from the Norway missions listing.

See the misssion Minisite


Children enjoy a SERPENT presentation at Science Aglow 2009


12 February 2009 - Science Aglow, Pembrokeshire

Rob Curry visited Pembrokeshire College at Haverforwest today to present the SERPENT project to 80 local Schoolchildren on the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth. The children, year 5 - 6 students, were fascinated by the images and asked lots of relevant questions. The event was organised by the The Darwin Centre for Biology and Medicine based at Pembrokeshire College and was broadcast on BBC Radio Wales.

Visit the Darwin Centre web site


Arctic Frontiers logo - visit web site


21 - 23 January 2009 - Arctic Frontiers 2009, Tromsø

Dr. Andrew Gates and Dr. Daniel Jones attended the 2009 Arctic Frontiers Conference in Tromsø in Northern Norway.

Both presented posters about the effects of drilling disturbance on benthic organisms in the Poster Session at the conference. Dr. Jones displayed the initial results from a study of recovery from drilling in the Faroe-Shetland Channel while Dr. Gates’ work focussed on the changes to meiofaunal diversity following a drilling disturbance. The conference was a good opportunity to discuss SERPENT’s research with scientists working in similar areas.

Visit the Arctic Frontiers web site



Please see the News Archive page for older news items.

For further information on SERPENT news stories contact Rob Curry.