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Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Repurpose obsolete offshore structures to act as artificial reefs Subtidal Benthic Invertebrate Conservation

Key messages

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  • One study examined the effects of repurposing obsolete offshore structures on subtidal benthic invertebrates. The study was of a sunken oil rig in the Mediterranean Sea (Italy).



  • Overall species richness/diversity (1 study): One study in the Mediterranean Sea recorded at least 53 invertebrate species having colonised a sunken oil rig after 30 years. Species included 14 species of molluscs, 14 species of worms, and 11 species of crustaceans.


Supporting evidence from individual studies


A study in 1994 in the northern Mediterranean Sea, Italy (Ponti et al. 2002) found that a drilling platform that had been left in place to act as an artificial reef after sinking was colonised by at least 53 invertebrate species. Species included 14 species of molluscs, 14 species of worms, and 11 species of crustaceans. Most recorded species were associated with the hard habitat created by mussels and oysters. The drilling platform sank in 1965 due to a fire. The area surrounding it was then declared a marine protected area prohibiting all fishing. Samples were collected in summer 1994 between 10 and 34 m depths using two methods. Divers manually scraped off three 20 x 20 cm areas from each of four sites (two orientations within two water depths). Invertebrates (>0.5 mm) were identified and counted. Divers also took photographs along five vertical transects. Percentage cover of organisms were estimated from the photographs.

Referenced papers

Please cite as:

Lemasson, A.J., Pettit, L.R., Smith, R.K., and Sutherland, W.J. (2019) Subtidal Benthic Invertebrate Conservation: Global Evidence for the Effects of Interventions. Synopses of Conservation Evidence Series. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.