Endangered Marine Turtles
Offshore platforms are ideal habitats for marine turtles. Their forage and prey organisms are readily available all over the platforms. Several species of crustaceans, algae, sponge, and fish and sea urchins, are abundant and jellyfish always seem to be in the water in the NW Gulf of Mexico. The picture above is of the Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and they are the least observed marine turtle in the Gulf (MMS 1994).
The Hawksbill Turtle below is resting on a platform, presumably after feeding, offshore of Louisiana. The turtles are opportunistic feeders and will graze on algae, sponge, and sea grasses. They also forage on jellyfish, crustaceans, and sea urchins. As you can see, the structure also provides the turtle with a place to rest and sleep after feeding. Large turtles will often return to a favorite platform and a favorite site and will ware spots along the transoms were they rest. The loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) are frequent visitors to offshore platforms. Leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea), the most oceanic of the marine turtles, have been sighted at offshore platforms. They feed primarily on jellyfish but also consume crustaceans, fish, and some algae. The Hawksbills Sea Turtles have been on the Endangered Species List since 1970. The removal of marine turtle habitat is in violation of the Endangered Species Act.
This Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus) was filmed next to a platform. The whale is swimming around a large school of squid. Enormous schools of squid are attracted to the massive structures during the day and they are extremely active at night under the lights that are maintained for operations. The whale was sighted swimming around a deep-water floating structure in 1,000 m of water on August 17th 2002.
By an order of a magnitude, the Bottlenose Dolphin are the most common marine mammal visiting offshore platforms and then Atlantic Spotted Dolphin are frequent visitors as well. Sightings of pods of Pilot Whales also occur often at deep-water structures.
Essential Fish Habitat | Endangered Species Habitat | Federally Managed Species | Coral Habitat | Live Rock | Schooling Fish | Attraction vs. Production