Stephen and Rig2Reef
- Hi, I’m Stephen Seagull! Now, who are you and what is Rigs-to-Reefs about?
We are ocean explorers in search of silver linings in our oceans. Rigs-to-Reefs is the practice of re-purposing decommissioned offshore oil and gas platforms into artificial reefs so that they may continue to support the marine life that has been growing on the platform structure ever since it was first installed.
- Why do you think it’s better for an oil platform to stay in the ocean?
The ecosystems found on oil and gas platforms are both unique and unexpected. Found offshore, in a blue ocean setting, these structures offer shelter to passing seal lions and dolphins, a nursery ground for threatened species of fish and a permanent residence to electric pink anemones and scallops the size of tennis balls. In fact, in California, these platforms have been found to be some of the most productive ecosystems on the planet. Each beam and column provides a habitat for life, and completely removing just one of these structures would result in the death of an ecosystem, home to hundreds of species and thousands of individuals. Not all oil platforms should stay in the ocean, but those that present an overall social, economic and environmental benefit should be considered for reefing.
- Loaded question, I know (what can I say, I always have my bags loaded and ready for take off) but thinking of your research, are you guys for or against the oil platforms in the ocean?
We absolutely support the Rigs to Reefs program, and those platforms that are good candidates for the program. We don't however support continued offshore drilling, and those platforms that are not good candidates for the program.
- Flying around, circling beaches and shorelines, I run into my fair share of pollution affecting our oceans. Keeping the oil platforms in the water doesn't hurt them more?
We are marine scientists who love and aim to protect the ocean, recognizing that the majority of our ocean is no longer a “pristine sea”, or untouched by human impacts. The human influences of pollution, runoff, overfishing, drilling for oil, etc. have negatively impacted the marine environment. However, the ocean is powerful and resilient, and has developed thriving reefs on some offshore oil and gas platforms. The platform structure develops like other artificial reefs in the ocean in which a man-made structure supports marine life and begins to mimic the natural surrounding environment. We view Rigs to Reefs as a silver lining to the realities of offshore oil and gas development.
- I don’t’ know about you, but I love to rest my feathers and be pampered after a long flight.... So, do the platforms need to be prepared in any special form before we can claim them back for nature or can I start pit stopping on my travels?
Yes. Before an oil platform is reefed through the Rigs to Reefs program the oil well must be sealed and capped. The oil well will remain the liability of the oil company forever.
- So the platforms are already out there, right? Which of my Shore Buddies would call these reefs home?
The offshore oil and gas platforms in California are home to many of the marine animals we see near shore, including the bright orange Garibaldi, Sea Lions, Rock Fish, Scallops and Anemones!
- I saw on Twitter (you know I love to tweet!) that the Gulf of Mexico has decommissioned over 500 oil platforms! But California hasn’t decommissioned any yet. Do you think the ecosystem can continue to live?
Absolutely! The California platforms have been home to successful reefs for many years, and many of our platforms would be excellent candidates for reefing.
- OK, so you guys are located in San Diego. Is your main activity here in California or where else do you guys operate?
Our primary operations are out of San Diego. Learn more at www.rig2reefexploration.org