Our Screamin' Streamin' Platform Videos

Delta Sub image

Since 1995, we have conducted fish surveys around the oil and gas platforms of California. The Biological Resources Division of the U. S. Geological Survey, Minerals Management Service and the California Artificial Reef Enhancement Program has funded this work.

Platforms are interesting places. Underwater, they are covered in invertebrates of many species and they usually harbor large numbers of fishes. It is difficult to generalize about what fishes live around platforms; each structure harbors a somewhat unique assemblage. However, if someone held a sharp object to one of our sensitive areas and demanded that we do so, here is what we would say. First, there are three distinct fish assemblages around most of the offshore platforms in the Santa Barbara Channel and Santa Maria Basin. The middle of the water column tends to act as a nursery ground for juvenile rockfishes, as well as blacksmith, painted greenling and a few other species. The platform bottoms are homes to more rockfishes, primarily adults of a wide number of species, as well as lingcod, combfishes and other forms. And the shell mound that surrounds platforms is home to yet more rockfishes, often the juveniles of the species found at the platform bottom, as well as a motley assortment of lingcod, painted greenling, gobies, a few species of flatfishes, combfishes and the like.

On this site, we have placed some video of what we see around platforms. Most of the video was taken from the research submarine Delta, some was acquired during scuba surveys or on other dives. You can access these videos either by clicking on the list below or by clicking on the colored platform names in the map below.

The submersible videos are of two types. First, there are clips from the taped surveys we conduct. These are from an externally mounted hi-8 camera and you can identify them because they have data (including date, depth, and water temperature) superimposed on the screen. You can hear us calling out the names of the fishes, often in a curious mixture of common and scientific names, as well as giving each fish’s approximate length, in centimeters. Hence, when you hear “red, 20”, we are referring to the vermilion rockfish (colloquially called “red snapper”) and its length of 20 centimeters.

The second clip type comes from a digital video camera that we place next to a port, sometimes while we are running surveys or when we see something cool to film. In general, when you click on an icon below we will give you a small amount of background explaining where the clip was taken and what is on it.

In order to view the video clips, you must have QuickTime™ 5.0 installed on your computer, and the QuickTime™ Plugin installed in your web browser's plug-ins folder. Click on the "Get QuickTime™" Link below to install QuickTime™ if you don't already have it. We should note that these tapes are best viewed on a higher speed system. For those of you with 56K or lower modems, these images are going to look a bit chunky.

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Platform Irene, Bottom
Platform Irene, bottom. The bottom portion of Platform Irene harbors very large numbers of fishes. On this clip you will see brown (Sebastes auriculatus), canary (Sebastes pinniger), copper (Sebastes caurinus), halfbanded (Sebastes semicinctus), vermilion (Sebastes miniatus), and yelloweye (Sebastes ruberrimus) rockfishes as well as lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus) and rubberlip perch (Rhacochilus toxotes). Most of these fishes are either older juveniles or young adults. Irene harbors higher densities of young lingcod than any natural reef (we surveyed about 70 of those) in central or southern California. Remember that the numbers we call out “20”, “30” etc. refer to the estimated length in centimeters of each fish.

Platform Hidalgo, Bottom
Platform Hidalgo, bottom. The bottom of Platform Hidalgo is home to a wide range of species, mostly rockfishes, but also lingcod and a few other forms. Most of these individuals are adults, but there are also older juveniles. Note that in the first half of this clip, fishes are difficult to see, they appear quite small and many are tucked away underneath the crossbeam that you are looking at. Fishes are more easily seen in the second half. Fishes seen here include bocaccio (Sebastes paucispinis), flag (Sebastes rubrivinctus), greenspotted (Sebastes chlorostictus), pygmy (Sebastes wilsoni), starry (Sebastes constellatus), vermilion = “red” (Sebastes miniatus), yelloweye (Sebastes ruberrimus), and lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus). Remember that the numbers we call out “20”, “30” etc. refer to the estimated length in centimeters of each fish.

Platform Gail, Bottom
Platform Gail, bottom. Platform Gail harbors the highest density of adult bocaccio, a species declared overfished by the National Marine Fisheries Service, than any other platform or natural reef we have surveyed. This short clip shows bocaccio at the bottom at Gail. Note that many of the fish that were called out were slightly above the viewing area of the camera.

Platform Gail
Platform Gail. These are juvenile Pacific hake (Merluccius productus). Hake do not seem to be a permanent resident around the platforms, but we do seem them occasionally, usually in humongous numbers.

Platform Grace, Midwater
Platform Grace, midwater. Note that there are 2 clips here, separated by a blackout of a few seconds. These images were shot in 1999, a year that saw very good survivorship of the young of a number of rockfish species around both platforms and some rock outcrops. The first clip shows young-of-the-year (about 9-month-old) flag rockfish (Sebastes rubrivinctus) and bocaccio (Sebastes paucispinis). The second clip, also from the midwaters of Grace, shows young bocaccio, blue (Sebastes mystinus), flag and widow (Sebastes entomelas) rockfishes.

Platform Grace, Bottom
Platform Grace, shellmound and bottom. There are 2 clips here. The first shows a lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus) sitting on a chair that appears to have fallen from the platform. Note the large seastar keeping the lingcod company. Clip 2 shows a large aggregation of subadult vermilion (Sebastes miniatus) and adult halfbanded (Sebastes semicinctus) rockfishes next to and under the bottom crossbeam at Grace.

Map of the Santa Barbara Channel based on satellite imagery. Click on a oil platform symbol to get a list of dive videos for that location.

Satellite imagery illustrating locations of platforms. Single click on a platform to see video from that dive.

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