natural science

Marine Biology

The science of marine biology involves plants and animals in the saltwater (marine) environment and for this reason it is sometimes known as marine science, biological oceanography or marine ecology.

Marine biologists examine aquatic plant and animal life found in bays, harbours, wetlands, and other ocean and coastal areas and for this reason is drawn heavily upon for matters of potential environmental impact or damage, which can be from various sources including environmental changes, physical impact, chemical or biological pollutants.

Our in-house marine biology team is called upon to advise on matters relating to the increasingly stringent environmental impact rules for ship’s ballast water management and other planned or unplanned discharges (including accidental chemical release), quantification of environmental damages, marine life fouling of ship’s hulls and other submerged structures and impact studies for industrial operations on marine environments.

Marine biologists are able to provide input on the nature and extent of marine environmental impacts from various sources, as well the monetary compensation due for claims arising out of damages to coral reefs and other special interest or protected parts of the marine biome.

Our marine biology team works closely with the chemical and material science teams for matters relating to structural wear or reduced effectiveness from marine organism fouling.

Typical uses for marine biologists include:

  • taxonomy of marine life in areas under assessment
  • structural fouling assessments (taxonomy, extent and age of fouling)
  • marine impact studies (for planned works)
  • advice on pollution to the marine environment
  • quantification of damages to marine organisms (such as reefs) from physical impact, bleaching or other sources
  • legal and scientific frameworks governing discharges or dumping into the marine environment

Case Study: Underwater Hull Fouling

A ship was taken under a six months time charter (hired over time), following which the owners of the vessel accused the charterer (persons hiring the vessel) of causing the hull to become fouled with marine growth, necessitating the vessel to enter a dry dock for complete hull cleaning and full protective coating replacement. The owners made a substantial claim in of about £0.5 million GBP to cover time lost for repairs and the cost of repairs themselves. Such repairs would be necessary they said, because the hull steelwork would corrode where the paint coatings were now gone, and the hull fouling would cause the ship to go slower and use up more fuel.

The owners appointed a well-known science consultancy to represent their interests. The arguments made from the owners side related to the age and taxonomy of hull-attached bio-fouling in the form of barnacles. This allowed them to create an argument at the fouling having occurred only after the vessel came under the hire of our clients.

AMA’s marine biologists were able to successfully argue  by scientific means, that in fact, the taxonomy and age of at least a percentage of the attached barnacles showed they clearly were present before the hire had transferred to our client. Moreover, with the assistance of technical arguments put forward by the AMA material scientists, it was successfully argued that prima facie evidence showed the hull protective paint coatings must have been defective for this fouling to have happened, and that as the protective coatings were outside of their manufacturers warranty period this indicated they ought to have renewed much sooner and in any event before the start of hire period. Consequently the charterer was able to avoid the demanded payment for damages.

AMA Provided: –

  • Marine biologists (sea life experts)
  • Material scientists (protective coating experts)

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