By Roy L Hales
Offshore wind farms may be providing Seals with a Buffet. The turbines are essentially an artificial reef. They became home to marine invertebrates, fish, crabs, lobsters, fouling animals, and plants.. They have also caught the attention of at least 11 seals to forage around two facilities: Alpha Ventus in Germany and Sheringham Shoal off the southeast coast of Norfolk in the UK. It is not yet known whether this is a good thing.
There have been concerns about the possible damages that the turbines may cause the seals hearing.
Some have also questioned the the wisdom of attracting too many creatures into a relatively small area.
A study from the University of St. Andrews found that some of the seals being studied prefer staying close to turbines.
Dan Wilhelmsson of the Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, suggested wind turbines could may be beneficial.
He told Science Daily, “With wind and wave energy farms, it should be possible to create large areas with biologically productive reef structures, which would moreover be protected from bottom trawling. By carefully designing the foundations it would be possible to favour and protect important species or, conversely, to reduce the reef effects in order minimize the impact on an area.”
(Image at top of page: Havvindparken Sheringham Shoal – Courtesy Harald Pettersen/Statoil, CC by SA, 2.0)