Discovery of coral reef off Lowcountry coast adds to offshore drilling concerns

This event was co-sponsored by the College of Charleston, SC Small Business Chamber of Commerce and 12 SC coastal mayors.

WCIV-TV (Charleston)
October 18, 2018

by Angela Brown

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — Balancing the science and passion over the debate—recent discoveries off the Lowcountry’s coast are drilling another spark—in the offshore drilling debate.

This week, the conversation came to a College of Charleston classroom to discuss a discovery off the South Carolina coast.

Dr. Sandra Brooke, a researcher at Florida State University, was contracted by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to study sensitive ecosystems in areas being considered for offshore drilling.

That research helped lead to the discovery of a deep-sea coral reef about 160 miles off Charleston’s coast.

“We used some new sea floor maps, and we used submersibles to go and basically search for these sensitive areas,” said Dr. Brooke. “That’s the kind of information that we will use to go, ‘OK, we’re pretty sure there’s corals on that bump.'”

Brooke feels the short-term benefits of tapping the off-shore energy source is more of a shortfall.

“Something like a deep sea reef will continue, if cared for and protected, will continue to provide ecosystem services beyond the life of the oil and gas reserves,” she said. “Our coasts shouldn’t be over politics all of the time. Our environment shouldn’t be over politics all of the time.”

Isle of Palms Mayor Jimmy Carroll is among a group of elected leaders up and down the state’s beachfront who are against the risks of oil exploration.

The group says drilling for oil could potentially damage the beaches and hurt the state’s multi-billion dollar tourism industry.

This new discovery adds another layer of important to the stance.

“Charleston’s been named the number 1 city to visit eight times in a row by Condé Nast. Why do we want to risk the environment? Why do we want to risk our Coast?” Carroll states.




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