It may be hard to believe by looking at the massive, rugged surface of an oil rig offshore, but these and other man-made structures are actually creating unique, flourishing biological hotspots in the ocean. These formations are increasing biological diversity by providing hard substrate for marine life to grow on in environments that are otherwise sites of low biodiversity due to the shifting sand and mud bottom which cannot support corals, kelp, mussels and similar habitats where many marine species find food and shelter. Rockfish particularly, one of the the West Coast's most economically important groups of fish, are flourishing in these habitats. Adult rockfish seek the ocean bottom and deep waters to shelter and hunt, but the California seabed offers little of the hard, complex substrate these rockfish require. Juvenile and larval rockfish settle high in the structures, a place where they would likely perish if not for the protection from the oil rig's pillars.
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