Deep Sea Forum

Scotland has a vast deep-sea area stretching out to the 200 nautical mile boundary, encompassing a range of diverse habitats as well as economic resources such as fishing, oil and gas. In addition to scientific interest in the deep sea, policy makers are required to protect many of these poorly understood habitats and the often fragile ecology and biodiversity that they support. Increasing access to deep sea habitats and exposure through various media has also stimulated significant public curiosity in the life found in these deep, col, dark environments.

A more holistic approach to studying the deep-sea is needed which requires engagement with researchers representing a variety of disciplines, including ecologists, chemists, physicists, modellers and climate scientists. These researchers have to be supported by technology that can operate remotely under extreme conditions. Only then can we truly begin to understand how the ecosystem functions.

The MASTS deep-sea forum has several initial aims highlighted below, which will evolve over time, to:

1) Interact with the different communities which have an interest in the deep-sea

2) Engage with new partners and promote collaboration across disciplines in order to further deep water research both at a national level as well as internationally

3) Ensure greater integration between researchers investigating deep/shallow water and the climate/atmosphere

4) Discuss and help deliver the best scientific knowledge available to policy makers

Deep sea researchers operating within the mASTS community have access to a variety of state of the art equipment, some of which has been specifically designed to operate and sample in the deepest parts of the world's oceans. The challenge of conducting research in these extreme environments means that much of the science is by definition, cutting edge. However, use of modern technology, together with practical ingenuity is leading to novel discoveries including species and ecosytems new to science.

This forum will be led by Dr Bhavani Narayanaswamy, a deep sea ecologist with over 10 years experience, having worked at SAMS, IOS Deacon Laboratory, University of Hamburg - Germany and as a Peet Fellow based in ENSR - Woods Hole, USA. Dr Narayanaswamy was also project coordinator for the European Census of Marine Life project (2005 – 2010) – linked to the global CoML programme. EuroCoML entailed working with researchers in many different fields, providing information on funding routes, supporting new collaborative projects and helping promote projects not only to other researchers but also to government and the wider public. This experience has provided Dr Narayanaswamy with a vast range of contacts within and outwith Europe, in terms of both the research community and other stakeholders.

Dr Narayanaswamy's research interests focus on how the faunal community structure changes in relation to changes in their environment e.g. differences in nutrient input, temperature, anthropogenic impacts. Currently Dr Narayanaswamy is studying differences in faunal community structure on seamounts and collaborating extensively with physicists and biogeochemists.

Forum Convenor: Dr Bhavani Narayanaswamy

Deputy Forum Convenor: Dr Alan Jamieson

Steering Group: Dr David Bailey (Glasgow University); Dr Francis Neat (MSS); Dr Andrew Dale (SAMS); Dr Robert Turnewitsch (SAMS) and Dr Heather Stewart (BGS).