Mon 6 Nov 17
Our deep sea coral expert Dr Michelle Taylor was among the marine biologists called upon to help with BBC One’s Blue Planet II series.
Dr Taylor, from the University’s School of Biological Sciences, was asked for her expertise on deep sea coral for last night’s Blue Planet II episode The Deep.
“The deep-sea is the largest habitat on the planet and, arguably, the least well known.” said Dr Taylor. “It was therefore great to be part of such an extraordinary documentary series in even a small way; informing the wider world about the wonders of this relatively unexplored realm.”
Although her research covers many types of marine environments, her main focus is in deep sea and its seafloor habitats, in particular about deep-sea ecosystems, what drives their biodiversity and how we can limit human impacts on these vulnerable habitats.
“There are huge gaps in our understanding about how well deep-sea populations are connected,” added Dr Taylor. “There are also a lot of big assumptions about the deep sea in general and I want to test these paradigms, as now, more than ever, humans are interacting with the deep sea – from deep sea mining and trawling to dropping waste and laying cables.
“If we are now interacting with an area we know so little about we cannot be sure about the impact we are having."
So far her research has seen her go on seven expeditions to the Arctic, Antarctic, Indian Ocean and Mid and North Atlantic Ocean. Deep sea coral can be found in every ocean and her most recent expedition was off the west coast of Scotland, on UK coral reefs.
As part of her research, like the Blue Planet II team, Dr Taylor uses remotely-controlled robots to film the depths of the seafloor and collect samples. “It is the exploration element of this part of the planet which I find most exciting,” she added.