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ROVs track deep water life in Gulf of Mexico; Oil spill threatens Louisiana marshland; Extinct Ascension Island fern rediscovered; Scary movie sounds

ROVs or remotely operated vehicles are being used to monitor and try stop the oil leaking from the sunken Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico. They can work at the extreme depths, pressures and temperatures found 1500 metres under the sea. They're very expensive to run, but before the oil spill, the oil companies allowed oceanographers to use the vehicles and their teams to track deep water life in the Gulf. The project called Gulf SERPENT has now been put on hold, with the moratorium on deep water drilling and the ROVs being used elsewhere. The concern now, is the weird and wonderful creatures that were discovered at depth are now being threatened with the plumes of oil and gas in the water column.

Louisiana produces vast amounts of seafood. Many of the shrimp, oysters and fin fish spend the early parts of their lives in the marshlands fringing the coast. These wetlands survive in a delicate biological and chemical balance within the ecosystem. The marshes were originally formed when silt, washed down by the Mississippi river was deposited along the coast. This nutrient–rich soil was quickly colonised by marsh grasses. And it's now the matted roots of these plants that actually make up the land. For the past 100 years, since levees were built to shore up the river to prevent flooding, the silt has not been deposited and the wetlands have been eroding at a rate of 65 square kilometres a year, or a football field sized area every 30 minutes. And now oil being washed ashore form the Deepwater Horizon rig oil spill is also killing off the vegetation.

The flora of Ascension Island, in the South Atlantic, has been getting botanists at London's Kew Gardens very excited. They're helping to protect plants that are under threat of extinction. And in their most recent mission, members of Kew's overseas territories team, have rescued one plant – the Anogramma fern - that was thought to be lost forever.

If you hear a baby cry or scream, it can trigger a severe emotional response. This is an evolutionary adaptation, found in many species of mammals, to make sure you pay attention. But movie makers also use these irregular or 'non-linear' sounds to give us chills up our spine when watching scary films.

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28 minutes

Last on

Sun 27 Jun 2010 03:32GMT


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