Offshore wind farms create ‘reef effect’ perfect for marine wildlife – especially seals

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It would be interesting to see a worldwide study on the effects of wind farms providing reef like conditions for marine animals. Courtesy of The Independent:

Wind farms and wildlife do not always go together: the giant turbines have been accused of luring species to their death, and the noise they generate can drive away certain marine mammals.

But wind farms have an unexpected benefit if you happen to be a harbour seal hunting for food in British waters, according to a new study. They are a magnet for hungry seals eager to take advantage of the fact that fish and crustaceans tend to cluster on the structures – which become artificial reefs for marine life over time.

Offshore wind farms can be fertile feeding grounds for seals who choose to seek them out – concludes the study, by an international team of researchers from Britain, Holland and the US, published yesterday in Current Biology Journal.

This is because the presence of a hard structure beneath the waves attracts barnacles and other crustaceans, and, in turn, fish. Dr Deborah Russell, a research fellow at the Scottish Oceans Institute at the University of St Andrews, explained how the “reef effect” attracts seals. “Things like barnacles and mussels will settle on hard structures and then that in turn will attract other marine species and it builds up over time.”

Dr Russell, the lead researcher on the study, told The Independent: “The seals will be eating fish that are attracted to the artificial reef; we are not actually sure what species they are eating but I think it might be species like cod and whiting.” Continue reading