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Discover the North Sea Environment

Maritime Museum - North Sea Environment

The North Sea covers an area of 523,000 square kilometres and is quite shallow, varying in depth from around 25 to 200 metres. Its huge variety of life includes dolphins, whales and seals, as well as fish, crustaceans (shellfish) and seabirds. Here you can see some of the amazing instruments scientists have developed over the past 200 years to measure the sea's properties (temperature, depth, saltiness, currents). You will also find some of the equipment used in the North Sea.

Discovering Oil
The North Sea is a valuable source of oil and gas. Oil and gas are formed over millions of years from the remains of plants and animals that lived in the sea. Over time the remains are covered with layers of mud. Heat and pressure turn them into crude oil.  Over many years, hydrogen and carbon atoms link to form petroleum (rock oil). The petroleum is trapped in sedimentary rock, like sandstone. The rock holds the oil like a sponge.

Deep Sea Diving
'Scorpio' Remotely Operated Vehicle as used in the Offshore Oil Industry for Inspection, Maintenance. This is Scorpio 29., c. 1990When oil platforms were placed in the North Sea to extract oil and gas, divers were needed to maintain them. Working hundreds of feet under the sea, divers could only stay down a short time. From the 1970s, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) have been used because they can stay underwater longer. Divers are still needed for delicate and complex work. The Scorpio ROV on display is typical of those used.