Oil and gas platforms (platforms) provide high-relief habitat in the northern Gulf of Mexico’s hypoxic zone that are important to associated fishes. Hypoxia develops near the bottom and reef-associated fishes utilize vertical structure in the well-oxygenated waters overlaying hypoxia. A video array was used to profile the water column and to estimate abundances and depth distributions of fishes before, during, and after summer hypoxia at platforms experiencing intense (seaward) and mild hypoxia (shoal). Gray snapper abundance increased at shoal platforms (10× greater after vs. before the hypoxia season), while abundance remained stable at seaward platforms. However, there was no significant relationship between gray snapper abundance and oxygen concentrations. Sheepshead, Atlantic spadefish, blue runner, and Atlantic bumper abundances varied throughout the summer, but there was no significant effect of hypoxia. Occupation of bottom waters by fishes was consistent throughout the study period at shoal platforms, but fishes were rarely observed in the bottom 3 m and congregated in the water immediately above the hypoxic layer when hypoxia was present at seaward platforms. Nevertheless, patterns of fish abundances were not driven by the presence or absence of hypoxia. The vertical dimension of platforms is a unique and key aspect of their ecological value, especially in the hypoxic zone, and should be considered for artificial reef management.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Agresti, A. 2007. An introduction to categorical data analysis. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.. https://doi.org/10.1002/0470114754.
Aumann, C.A., L.A. Eby, and W.F. Fagan. 2006. How transient patches affect population dynamics: the case of hypoxia and blue crabs. Ecological Monographs 76 (3): 415–438. https://doi.org/10.1890/0012-9615(2006)076[0415:HTPAPD]2.0.CO;2.
Bacheler, N.M., and K.W. Shertzer. 2015. Estimating relative abundance and species richness from reef video surveys: how many frames to read? Fishery Bulletin 113: 15–26.
Bacheler, N.M., C.M. Schobernd, Z.H. Schobernd, W.A. Mitchell, D.J. Berrane, G.T. Kellison, and M.J.M. Reichert. 2013. Comparison of trap and underwater video gears for indexing reef fish presence and abundance in the southeast United States. Fisheries Research 143: 81–88. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fishres.2013.01.013.
Barnes, S., C. Bond, N. Burger, K. Anania, A. Strong, S. Weilant, and S. Virgets. 2015. Economic evaluation of coastal land loss in Louisiana. Baton Rouge: Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.
Baustian, M.M., and N.N. Rabalais. 2009. Seasonal composition of benthic macroinfauna exposed to hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. Estuaries and Coasts 32 (5): 975–983. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12237-009-9187-3.
Baustian, M.M., J.K. Craig, and N.N. Rabalais. 2009. Effects of summer 2003 hypoxia on macrobenthos and Atlantic croaker foraging selectivity in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 381: S31–S37. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jembe.2009.07.007.
Beaver, C., S. Childs, and Q. Dokken. 2003. Secondary productivity within biotic fouling community elements on two artificial reef structures in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. American Fisheries Society Symposium 36: 195–204.
Bohnshack, J.A. 1989. Are high densities of fishes at artificial reefs the result of habitat limitation or behavioral preference. Bulletin of Marine Science 44 (2): 631–645.
Bonga, W.S.E. 1997. The stress response in fish. Physiological Reviews 77 (3): 591–625.
Boswell, K.M., R.J.D. Wells, J.H. Cowan, and C.A. Wilson. 2010. Biomass, density, and size distributions of fishes associated with a large-scale artificial reef complex in the Gulf of Mexico. Bulletin of Marine Science 86 (4): 879–889. https://doi.org/10.5343/bms.2010.1026.
Breitburg, D.L. 1994. Behavioral response of fish larvae to low dissolved oxygen concentrations in a stratified water column. Marine Biology 120 (4): 615–625. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00350083.
Campbell, M.D., A.G. Pollack, C.T. Gledhill, T.S. Switzer, and D.A. DeVries. 2015. Comparison of relative abundance indices calculated from two methods of generating video count data. Fisheries Research 170: 125–133. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fishres.2015.05.011.
Claisse, J.T., D.J. Pondella, M. Love, L.A. Zahn, C.M. Williams, J.P. Williams, and A.S. Bull. 2014. Oil platforms off California are among the most productive marine fish habitats globally. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111 (43): 15462–15467. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1411477111.
Cowan, J.H., Jr., C.B. Grimes, W.F. Patterson, C.J. Walters, A.C. Jones, W.J. Lindberg, D.J. Sheehy, W.E. Pine, J.E. Powers, M.D. Campbell, K.C. Lindeman, S.L. Diamond, R. Hilborn, H.T. Gibson, and K.A. Rose. 2010. Red snapper management in the Gulf of Mexico: science- or faith-based? Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 21 (2): 187–204.
Craig, J.K. 2012. Aggregation on the edge: effects of hypoxia avoidance on the spatial distribution of brown shrimp and demersal fishes in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Marine Ecology Progress Series 445: 75–95. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps09437.
Craig, J.K., and S.H. Bosman. 2013. Small spatial scale variation in fish assemblage structure in the vicinity of the northwestern Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone. Estuaries and Coasts 36 (2): 268–285. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12237-012-9577-9.
Craig, J.K., and L.B. Crowder. 2001. Ecological effects of hypoxia on fish, sea turtles, and marine mammals in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. In Coastal hypoxia: Consequences for living resources and ecosystems, ed. N.N. Rabalais and R.E. Turner, 269–292. Washington DC: American Geophysical Union. https://doi.org/10.1029/CE058p0269.
Craig, J.K., and L.B. Crowder. 2005. Hypoxia-induced habitat shifts and energetic consequences in Atlantic croaker and brown shrimp on the Gulf of Mexico shelf. Marine Ecology Progress Series 294: 79–94. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps294079.
Craig, J.K., L.B. Crowder, and T.A. Henwood. 2005. Spatial distribution of brown shrimp (Farfantepenaeus aztecus) on the northwestern Gulf of Mexico shelf: effects of abundance and hypoxia. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 62 (6): 1295–1308. https://doi.org/10.1139/f05-036.
Daigle, S.T., J.W. Fleeger, J.H. Cowan, and P. Pascal. 2013. What is the relative importance of phytoplankton and attached macroalgae and epiphytes to food webs on offshore oil platforms? Marine and Coastal Fisheries 5 (1): 53–64. https://doi.org/10.1080/19425120.2013.774301.
Day, R.W., and G.P. Quinn. 1989. Comparisons of treatments after an analysis of variance in ecology. Ecological Monographs 59 (4): 433–463. https://doi.org/10.2307/1943075.
DiMarco, S.F., P. Chapman, N. Walker, and R.D. Hetland. 2010. Does local topography control hypoxia on the eastern Texas–Louisiana shelf? Journal of Marine Systems 80 (1-2): 25–35. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmarsys.2009.08.005.
Dubois, S., C.G. Gelpi, R.E. Condrey, M.A. Grippo, and J.W. Fleeger. 2009. Diversity and composition of macrobenthic community associated with sandy shoals of the Louisiana continental shelf. Biodiversity and Conservation 18 (14): 3759–3784. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-009-9678-3.
Duglas, R., V. Guillory, and M. Fischer. 1979. Oil rigs and offshore sport fishing in Louisiana. Fisheries 4 (6): 2–10.
Eby, L.A., and L.B. Crowder. 2002. Hypoxia-based habitat compression in the Neuse River Estuary: context-dependent shifts in behavioral avoidance thresholds. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 59 (6): 952–965. https://doi.org/10.1139/f02-067.
Eby, L.A., L.B. Crowder, C.M. McClellan, C.H. Peterson, and M.J. Powers. 2005. Habitat degradation from intermittent hypoxia: impacts on demersal fishes. Marine Ecology Progress Series 291: 249–261. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps291249.
Ellis, D.M., and E.E. Demartini. 1995. Evaluation of a video camera technique for indexing abundances of juvenile pink snapper, Pristipomoides filamentosus, and other Hawaiian insular shelf fishes. Fishery Bulletin 93: 67–77.
Faunce, C.H., and J.E. Serafy. 2007. Nearshore habitat use by gray snapper (Lutjanus griseus) and bluestriped grunt (Haemulon sciurus): environmental gradients and ontogenetic shifts. Bulletin of Marine Science 80 (3): 473–495.
Franks, J.S., and K.E. Vanderkooy. 2000. Feeding habits of juvenile lane snapper Lutjanus synagris from Mississippi coastal waters, with comments on the diet of gray snapper Lutjanus griseus. Gulf and Caribbean Research 12: 11–17.
Gallaway, B.J., L.R. Martin, R.L. Howard, G.S. Boland, and G.D. Dennis. 1981. Effects on artificial reef and demersal fish and macrocrustacean communities. In Environmental effects of offshore oil production: the buccaneer gas and oil field study, ed. B.S. Middleton, 237–299. New York: Plenum Press. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4684-1110-2_11.
Gallaway, B.J., S.T. Szedlmayer, and W.J. Gazey. 2009. A life history review for red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico with an evaluation of the importance of offshore petroleum platforms and other artificial reefs. Reviews in Fisheries Science 17 (1): 48–67. https://doi.org/10.1080/10641260802160717.
Gaston, G.R. 1985. Effects of hypoxia on macrobenthos of the inner shelf off Cameron, Louisiana. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 20 (5): 603–613. https://doi.org/10.1016/0272-7714(85)90110-6.
Gelpi, C.G., R.E. Condrey, J.W. Fleeger, and S.F. Dubois. 2009. Discovery, evaluation, and implications of blue crab, Callinectes sapidus, spawning, hatching, and foraging grounds in federal (US) waters offshore of Louisiana. Bulletin of Marine Science 85: 203–222.
Gower, J.C. 1966. Some distance properties of latent root and vector methods used in multivariate analysis. Biometrika 53 (3-4): 325–338. https://doi.org/10.1093/biomet/53.3-4.325.
Grippo, M., J.W. Fleeger, R.E. Condrey, and K.R. Carman. 2009. High benthic microalgal biomass found on ship shoal, north-central Gulf of Mexico. Bulletin of Marine Science 84 (2): 237–256.
Grippo, M.A., J.W. Fleeger, N.N. Rabalais, R. Condrey, and K.R. Carman. 2010. Contribution of phytoplankton and benthic microalgae to inner shelf sediments of the north-central Gulf of Mexico. Continental Shelf Research 30 (5): 456–466. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.csr.2009.12.015.
Grossman, G.D., G.P. Jones, and W.J. Seaman. 1997. Do artificial reefs increase regional fish production? A review of existing data. Fisheries 22 (4): 17–23. https://doi.org/10.1577/1548-8446(1997)022<0017:DARIRF>2.0.CO;2.
Gunter, G., and R.A. Geyer. 1955. Studies of fouling organisms in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. Publications of the Institute of Marine Science, University of Texas 4: 39–67.
Harrigan, P., J.C. Zieman, and S.A. Macko. 1989. The base of nutritional support for the gray snapper (Lutjanus griseus): an evaluation based on a combined stomach content and stable isotope analysis. Bulletin of Marine Science 44 (1): 65–77.
Harville, J.P. 1983. Obsolete petroleum platforms as artificial reefs. Fisheries 8 (2): 4–6.
Hazen, E.L., J. Craig, C. Good, and L. Crowder. 2009. Vertical distribution of fish biomass in hypoxic waters on the Gulf of Mexico shelf. Marine Ecology Progress Series 375: 195–207. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps07791.
Hernandez, F.J., R.F. Shaw, J.S. Cope, J.G. Ditty, T. Farooqi, and M.C. Benfield. 2003. The across shelf larval, postlarval, and juvenile fish assemblages collected at offshore oil and gas platforms west of the Mississippi River Delta. In Fisheries, reefs, and offshore development, ed. D. Stanley and A. Scarborough-Bull , 39–72. Bethesda: American Fisheries Society.Symposium
Hettler, W.F. 1989. Food habits of juveniles of spotted seatrout and gray snapper in western Florida Bay. Bulletin of Marine Science 44 (1): 155–162.
Kaiser, M.J. 2006. The Louisiana artificial reef program. Marine Policy 30 (6): 605–623. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2005.04.005.
Leming, T.D., and W.E. Stuntz. 1984. Zones of coastal hypoxia revealed by satellite scanning have implications for strategic fishing. Nature 310 (5973): 136–138. https://doi.org/10.1038/310136a0.
Lenihan, H.S., C.H. Peterson, J.E. Byers, J.H. Grabowski, G.W. Thayer, and D.R. Colby. 2001. Cascading of habitat degradation: oyster reefs invaded by refugee fishes escaping stress. Ecological Applications 11 (3): 764–782. https://doi.org/10.1890/1051-0761(2001)011[0764:COHDOR]2.0.CO;2.
Lewbel, G.S., R.L. Howard, and B.J. Gallaway. 1987. Zonation of dominant fouling organisms on northern Gulf of Mexico petroleum platforms. Marine Environmental Research 21 (3): 199–224. https://doi.org/10.1016/0141-1136(87)90066-3.
Luo, J., J.E. Serafy, S. Sponaugle, P.B. Teare, and D. Kieckbusch. 2009. Movement of gray snapper Lutjanus griseus among subtropical seagrass, mangrove, and coral reef habitats. Marine Ecology Progress Series 380: 255–269. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps07911.
Mccormick, M.I. 2006. Mothers matter: crowding leads to stressed mothers and smaller offspring in marine fish. Ecology 87 (5): 1104–1109. https://doi.org/10.1890/0012-9658(2006)87[1104:MMCLTS]2.0.CO;2.
Munnelly, R.T. 2016. Fishes associated with oil and gas platforms in Louisiana’s river-influenced nearshore waters. MS Thesis, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University.
Nelson, G.A. 2014. Cluster sampling: a pervasive, yet little recognized survey design in fisheries research. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 143 (4): 926–938. https://doi.org/10.1080/00028487.2014.901252.
Nieland, D.L., and C.A. Wilson. 1993. Reproductive biology and annual variation of reproductive variables of black drum in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 122 (3): 318–327. https://doi.org/10.1577/1548-8659(1993)122<0318:RBAAVO>2.3.CO;2.
Obenour, D.R., D. Scavia, N.N. Rabalais, R.E. Turner, and A.M. Michalak. 2013. Retrospective analysis of midsummer hypoxic area and volume in the northern Gulf of Mexico, 1985-2011. Environmental Science & Technology 47 (17): 9808–9815. https://doi.org/10.1021/es400983g.
Pearson, J.C. 1928. Natural history and conservation of redfish and other commercial Sciaenids on the Texas coast. Bulletin of the United States Bureau of Fisheries 44: 129–214.
Penland, S., H. Roberts, S. Williams, A. Sallenger, D. Cahoon, D. Davis, and C. Groat. 1990. Coastal land loss in Louisiana. Transactions of the Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies. 40: 685–699.
Polovina, J.J. 1991. Fisheries applications and biological impacts of artificial habitats. In Artificial habitats for marine and freshwater fishes, ed. W. Seaman and L.M. Sprague, 153–176. San Diego: Academic Press, Inc. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-08-057117-1.50011-1.
Prince, E.D., and C.P. Goodyear. 2006. Hypoxia-based habitat compression of tropical pelagic fishes. Fisheries Oceanography 15 (6): 451–464. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2419.2005.00393.x.
Prince, E.D., and C.P. Goodyear. 2007. Consequences of ocean scale hypoxia constrained habitat for tropical pelagic fishes. Gulf and Caribbean Research 19: 17–20.
Rabalais, N.N., R.E. Turner, W.J. Wiseman, and D.F. Boesch. 1991. A brief summary of hypoxia on the northern Gulf of Mexico continental shelf; 1985-1988. In Modern and ancient continental shelf anoxia, ed. R.V. Tyson and T.H. Pearson, 35–47. London: Geological Society Special Publication No 58.
Rabalais, N.N., R.E. Turner, and D. Scavia. 2002. Beyond science into policy: Gulf of Mexico hypoxia and the Mississippi River. Bioscience 52 (2): 129–142. https://doi.org/10.1641/0006-3568(2002)052[0129:BSIPGO]2.0.CO;2.
Reeves, D.B. 2015. Oil and gas platforms on ship shoal, northern Gulf of Mexico, as habitat for reef-associated organisms. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University.
Reeves, D.B., R.T. Munnelly, E.J. Chesney, D.M. Baltz, and B.D. Marx. 2017. Stone crab Menippe spp. populations on Louisiana’s nearshore oil and gas platforms: higher density and size at maturity on a sand shoal. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 146 (3): 371–383. https://doi.org/10.1080/00028487.2017.1281164.
Renaud, M.L. 1986. Hypoxia in Louisiana coastal waters during 1983: implications for fisheries. Fishery Bulletin 84: 19–26.
Renfro, W.C. 1963. Gas bubble mortality of fishes in Galveston Bay, Texas. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 92 (3): 320–322. https://doi.org/10.1577/1548-8659(1963)92[320:GMOFIG]2.0.CO;2.
Roman, M.R., J.J. Pierson, D.G. Kimmel, W.C. Boicourt, and X. Zhang. 2012. Impacts of hypoxia on zooplankton spatial distributions in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Estuaries and Coasts 35 (5): 1261–1269. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12237-012-9531-x.
Ross, J.L., J.S. Pavela, and M.E. Chittenden. 1983. Seasonal occurrence of black drum, Pogonias cromis, and red drum, Sciaenops ocellatus, off Texas. Northeast Gulf Science 6 (1): 67–70.
Samples, K.C., and J.T. Sproul. 1985. Fish aggregating devices and open-access commercial fisheries: a theoretical inquiry. Bulletin of Marine Science 37 (1): 305–317.
Saucier, M.H., and D.M. Baltz. 1993. Spawning site selection by spotted seatrout, Cynoscion nebulosus, and black drum, Pogonias cromis, in Louisiana. Environmental Biology of Fishes 36 (3): 257–272. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00001722.
Schobernd, Z.H., N.M. Bacheler, P.B. Conn, and V. Trenkel. 2014. Examining the utility of alternative video monitoring metrics for indexing reef fish abundance. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 71 (3): 464–471. https://doi.org/10.1139/cjfas-2013-0086.
Shannon, C. 1948. A mathematical theory of communication. Bell System Technical Journal 27: 379–423.
Shen, J., T. Wang, J. Herman, P. Mason, and G.L. Arnold. 2008. Hypoxia in a coastal embayment of the Chesapeake Bay: a model diagnostic study of oxygen dynamics. Estuaries and Coasts 31 (4): 652–663. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12237-008-9066-3.
Shinn, E.A. 1974. Oil structures as artificial reefs. In International conference on artificial reefs, Astroworld Hotel, March 20–22, ed. L. Colunga and R. Stone, 91–96. College Station: Texas A&M University.
Shipp, R.L., and S.A. Bortone. 2009. A perspective of the importance of artificial habitat on the management of red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico. Reviews in Fisheries Science 17 (1): 41–47. https://doi.org/10.1080/10641260802104244.
Stanley, D.R., and C.A. Wilson. 1991. Factors affecting the abundance of selected fishes near oil and gas platforms in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Fishery Bulletin 89: 149–159.
Stanley, D.R., and C.A. Wilson. 1998. Spatial variation in fish density at three petroleum platforms as measured with dual-beam hydroacoustics. Gulf of Mexico Science 16: 73–82.
Stanley, D.R., and C.A. Wilson. 2004. Effect of hypoxia on the distribution of fishes associated with a petroleum platform off coastal Louisiana. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 24 (2): 662–671. https://doi.org/10.1577/M02-194.1.
Stone, R., H. Pratt, R. Parker, and G. Davis. 1979. A comparison of fish populations on an artificial and natural reef in the Florida Keys. Marine Fisheries Review 41: 1–11.
Switzer, T.S., E.J. Chesney, and D.M. Baltz. 2009. Habitat selection by flatfishes in the northern Gulf of Mexico: implications for susceptibility to hypoxia. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 381: S51–S64. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jembe.2009.07.011.
Switzer, T.S., E.J. Chesney, and D.M. Baltz. 2015. Habitat use by juvenile red snapper in the northern Gulf of Mexico: ontogeny, seasonality, and the effects of hypoxia. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 144 (2): 300–314. https://doi.org/10.1080/00028487.2014.991447.
Wells, R.J. David, and J.H. Cowan Jr. 2007. Fish assemblages on sand, shell, and natural reef habitats in the north-central Gulf of Mexico. American Fisheries Society Symposium 60: 39–57.
Willis, T.J., and R.C. Babcock. 2000. A baited underwater video system for the determination of relative density of carnivorous fish. Marine Freshwater Research 51 (8): 755–763. https://doi.org/10.1071/MF00010.
Wilson, C.A., and D.L. Nieland. 1994. Reproductive biology of red drum, Sciaenops ocellatus, from the neritic waters of the northern Gulf of Mexico. Fishery Bulletin 92: 841–850.
Yeager, L.A., C.A. Layman, and C.M. Hammerschlag-Peyer. 2014. Diet variation of a generalist fish predator, gray snapper Lutjanus griseus, across an estuarine gradient: trade-offs of quantity for quality? Journal of Fish Biology 85 (2): 264–277. https://doi.org/10.1111/jfb.12416.
YSI Incorporated. 2012. 6-Series multiparameter water quality sondes: User Manual. YSI Incorporated, Yellow Springs, OH
This study was funded by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (award number: M12AC00015). We are grateful for field assistance from Claire Windecker and insights from Frank Jordan, Carey Gelpi, and Kanchan Maiti. We are also grateful for the helpful comments provided by three anonymous reviewers and an associate editor. Opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this report are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of the State of Florida.
Communicated by Mark S. Peterson
About this article
Cite this article
Reeves, D.B., Chesney, E.J., Munnelly, R.T. et al. Abundance and Distribution of Reef-Associated Fishes Around Small Oil and Gas Platforms in the Northern Gulf of Mexico’s Hypoxic Zone. Estuaries and Coasts 41, 1835–1847 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12237-017-0349-4
- Habitat compression
- Artificial reefs
- Fish assemblages