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Rosneft presents a series of online lectures on biology of the Black and Azov Seas

04 September 2020

Scientists of the Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, the Lomonosov Moscow State University, the RAS Marine Hydrophysical Institute, the Azov-Black Sea branch of the Russian Federal Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography, and the Marine Research Centre of the Lomonosov Moscow State University with the support of Rosneft Oil Company and the Arctic Research Centre (a part of Rosneft's corporate research and development complex) described in detail the process of creation of the unique Biology of the Black and Azov Seas online course.

The series of 22 lectures is available for a wide range of listeners on Lektorium production studio site. The lecture course is based on the data from the Black and Azov Seas environmental atlas published by Rosneft together with Innopraktika this year. Over 40 specialists contributed to the creation of the Atlas, including 20 Candidates of Sciences and eight Doctors of Sciences from the leading universities and scientific organisations, as well as representatives of the region's environmentally sensitive areas.

"Let me remind you that full-fledged studies of the Black Sea dolphins' habitat have not been conducted since the 80s of the last century. The first marine expedition with Rosneft’s support was carried out in September, 2018. The information obtained provided the basis for the unique environmental atlas "Biology of the Black and Azov Seas". For instance, this fruitful work resulted in unique maps never published before. Rosneft plans to publish six more atlases in cooperation with the Arctic Research Centre and the non-governmental development institution Innopraktika", - Rosneft spokesperson Mikhail Leontyev said.

According to Artem Isachenko, the expert of innovative offshore projects department of the Arctic Research Centre, the idea of publishing atlases initially came up after the Centre and Rosneft specialists had carried out extensive aerial survey of the Kara Sea coast.

"We evaluated the obtained material and decided that it would not be right to use it only for production purposes. The Company supported our initiative and that was a start of a series of environmental atlases about the Russian seas. Since 2016 we have already published atlases on the Kara and Laptev Seas. In 2017 we published an atlas of marine mammals of the Russian Arctic and the Far East Seas. In 2019 we expanded our geographic coverage and published an atlas on the Black and Azov Seas", - said Artem Isachenko.

This edition includes unique maps never published before - for example, a map with a 3D model of the Black Sea floor. It also includes the most complicated map of all atlases in this series - the map of sea floor biocoenosis of the Azov Sea. Using this map one can track how sediment dweller species were spread on the sea floor throughout 50 years.

"Map creation is a complex scientific and technological process. Any map starts with a search for information, then comes matching the information on the map and the author's text. In order to publish the atlas we had to deal with a great volume of information - for example, for one of the maps we had to process data on 350 species of fish", - said the Atlas project manager, IT Director of the Marine Research Centre of the Lomonosov Moscow State University Denis Ilyushin.

The detailed and complex analytical work of the scientists formed the basis for the online course on the Black and Azov Seas biology. Initially the course was designed for natural sciences students. However, later it became clear that the great amount of unique information would be of interest to a wide range of listeners.

"The course continues our work on creation of atlases. It is based on stories of people directly involved in exploration of a specific reservoir. Our work is not only in discovering something new, but also in knowledge codification. We have entire shelves filled with books on every sea. The atlas and the lecture cycle are a guide for the audience that provides brief information on the most important subjects", - noted in his turn the supervisor of studies for the series of environmental atlases of the Russian seas, the chief lecturer of the course, the Head of laboratory of coastal floor communities of the Shirshov Institute of Oceanology of the Russian Academy of Science Vadim Mokievsky.

The listeners of the new course will learn the up-to-date information about the Black and Azov Seas ecosystem conditions, the changes happening in the waters due to natural and anthropogenic factors.

In addition, the lectures provide information about the composition and diversity of plankton, seaweed, bottom-dwelling invertebrates, and different groups of animals (fish, birds, and marine mammals), as well as immigrant species who appeared in the Black Sea accidentally or due to human activities.

A team of experts in geology, hydrology and sea biology took part in the development of the atlas and the study course of the Black and Azov Seas biology engaged. During studying mammals with Rosneft’s support the scientists tried to use both new and old research methods and instruments. For example, the specialists evaluated the population level of bottlenose dolphins using drones.

"We controlled the time the drone was hanging up above certain animals or groups of animals following the yacht for a long time. We also used bio-acoustic method of keeping record of bottlenose dolphins. These dolphins have their individual identification signals - signature whistles. The acoustic data collected from whistled was compared with data of visual count to obtain the most precise data" - said the research specialist of the Marine Mammal Laboratory of the Shirshov Institute of Oceanology of the Russian Academy of Science, the Black Sea Cetacean Survey project manager Vera Krasnova.

Data on marine biology and especially on the number and migration of populations is very valuable, especially for industrial companies. At the stage of planning their activities enterprises and companies have to take into account what areas the animals are bound to. "For example, dolphins and the Black Sea porpoises show attachment to specific territories regardless of season", - Vera Krasnova noted.

You can apply for the course at

Note for Editors:

The Ecological Atlas of the Black and Azov Seas has been published in 2020, with its digital version available for the wider public on the Company's website at This is the fourth book of the Ecological Atlases of the Seas of Russia series--a joint project of Rosneft Oil Company, the Arctic Research Centre, and the Innopraktika non-governmental development institute.

Download the Atlas free of charge

Information Division
September 4, 2020

Keywords: Environmental News 2020