Marine research

Offshore wind farms as a hunting ground

Astrid Dähn, 6 Aug 14
Seals and other marine animal species accept offshore wind farms as new habitat and hunting grounds, a study by biologists at St. Andrews University in Scotland has found. The researchers believe the turbine foundation could function as artificial reefs.

Offshore wind farms may be a good hunting ground for certain marine animal species. This was one of the findings of a study conducted by biologists at St. Andrews University in Scotland. The researchers studied harbour seals and grey seals living near two offshore wind farms, Alpha Ventus and Sheringham Shoal. They attached GPS transmitters to the seals’ fur, enabling them to track the animals’ movement patterns over several days. The findings are published in the latest issue of the journal Current Biology.

Several of the monitored animals returned regularly to the wind farm to look for food there. “You could see that the seal appeared to travel in straight lines between turbines, as if he was checking them out for potential prey and then stopping to forage at certain ones,” said the lead researcher, Dr Deborah Russell. She interprets this behaviour as an indication that offshore wind farms can function like an artificial reef for seals, providing them with new habitats and hunting grounds. She pointed out, however, that further analysis is needed to understand the effect in more detail.

 

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