Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/wes-2021-123
https://doi.org/10.5194/wes-2021-123

  10 Nov 2021

10 Nov 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal WES.

Artificial hard substrate colonisation in the offshore Hywind Scotland Pilot Park 

Rikard Karlsson1,, Malin Tivefälth1,, Iris Duranović1,, Ane Kjølhamar2, and Kari Mette Murvoll2 Rikard Karlsson et al.
  • 1Environmental department, MMT Sweden AB, Gothenburg, SE-426 71, Sweden
  • 2Equinor ASA, Trondheim, 7053, Norway
  • These authors contributed equally to this work.

Abstract. Artificial substrates associated with renewable offshore energy infrastructure, such as Floating Offshore Windfarms, enables the establishment of benthic communities with similar diversity species composition to that of naturally occurring rocky intertidal habitats. The size of the biodiversity impact and the structural changes on benthic habitats will depend on the selected locations. The aim of the study was to assess colonisation, zonation, quantify diversity and abundance, and identify any non-indigenous species of fauna and flora present within the wind farm. This article is based on work undertaken within the offshore floating Hywind Scotland Pilot Park, the first floating offshore wind park established in the world, located approximately 25 km east of Peterhead, Scotland. The floating pilot park is situated in water depths of approximately 120 m with a seabed characterised predominantly by sand and gravel substrates with occasional patches of mixed sediments. The study utilised a Work Class Remotely Operated Vehicle with a mounted High Definition video camera, deployed from the survey vessel M/V Stril Explorer. A total of 41 structures, as well as their associated subcomponents, including Turbines (Substructures), Mooring Lines, Suction Anchors and Infield Cables, were analysed with regards to diversity, abundance, colonisation, coverage and zonation. This approach provides comprehensive coverage of whole structures in a safe and time-saving manner. Eleven phyla were observed with a total of 121 different taxa, macrofauna as well as macro- and filamentous algae, identified on the different structures. The submerged turbines measured approximately 80 m in height and exhibited distinct patterns of zonation. Plumose anemone Metridium senile and tube building fan worm Spirobranchus sp. dominated the bottom and mid-sections (80 m–20 m) of the turbines while kelp and other Phaeophyceae with blue mussel Mytilus spp. dominated top sections of the turbines (20 m–0 m).

Rikard Karlsson et al.

Status: open (until 22 Dec 2021)

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Rikard Karlsson et al.

Rikard Karlsson et al.

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Short summary
Distinct zonations with its own fauna and flora were observed. Algae and blue mussels dominated the structures from the surface down to 20 m, with tube building fan worms and plumose anemones as the main colonisers found below. The park is in its “intermediate” stage and moving towards the “apex” stage, with anemones covering most of the structures. The study was conducted to investigate if a floating wind park has the same fauna and zonations observed on traditional non-floating wind parks.