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Last Updated: Monday, 26 September 2005, 20:34 GMT 21:34 UK
Unique project films sea beasts
New discoveries about rare sea creatures are being made thanks to a unique partnership between marine scientists and oil companies.

The Serpent Project - the brainchild of Southampton's National Oceanography Centre - sees firms filming underwater creatures while working on oil rigs.

More than 200 oil companies have signed up to the scheme.

"The results have been incredible, far beyond our original expectations," said Dr Ian Hudson.

We have filmed frogfish: deep-sea angler fish that walk instead of swim
Dr Hudson
"We have seen new species, found animals in areas where they were believed not to be present, but most importantly we have been able to observe their behaviour in their natural habitats.

"There are over 400 oil rigs worldwide - all with the potential to help science explore the oceans.

"We are working with companies that represent over 200 of them.

He said they had filmed behaviour that had never before been studied.

"Working with Woodside, Australia's largest oil producer, off the coast of Western Australia, we have filmed frogfish: deep-sea angler fish that walk instead of swim.

"It would have been very difficult to discover this fact from capturing them in a net," he explained.

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