Last month, in March 2017, eCOAST undertook an environmental monitoring campaign of the seafloor in a Dutch wind farm: Prinses Amaliawindpark.
The goal of this study is to monitor possible changes in soft sediment invertebrates in the wind park, 10 years after construction. Comparisons will be made between the baseline study, the T5 and T6 monitoring and the current T10 situation with respect to epifaunal communities, faunal characteristics (shell length), evidence of anthropogenic effects (shell damage from trawling) and sediment types.
Following this method, it will be possible to assess if the presence of the wind farm has an effect on the soft sediment benthic fauna and to determine whether or not the wind farm serves as a refuge for certain species.
A benthic sledge was used to collect larger, long-living epibenthic organisms to answer the abovementioned research question. A boxcorer was used to collect sediment samples. Possible changes in epibenthos can be correlated with abiotic variables and anthropogenic variables such as fishing intensity.
In the beginning of March 2017, 40 epibenthic sledge and boxcorer samples were collected on board vessel MS Arca of Rijkswaterstaat. The survey team consisted of 9 people from eCOAST, but also Aquasense, and the Fieldwork Company. All members are highly skilled and very experienced in the field of conducting surveys on the Dutch Continental Shelf and in wind parks.