Ecologists from Plymouth and Exeter, UK, have developed the HD video monitoring method to be used at Wave Hub – the test socket for wave energy devices.
Dr Emma Sheehan at the Peninsular Research Institute for Marine Renewable Energy (PRIMaRE), says: “We need a way to measure the local environmental impacts that result from this method of [wave] energy extraction so that future large-scale wave farms can be managed effectively.
The HD video can perform in wave and tidal currents, over variable habitats and depths, and with relatively little impact on the sea bed. This is particularly important for the Wave Hub site, as it is likely to become a Marine Protected Area, meaning it will not be possible to use trawling or SCUBA teams to survey the seabed.
Sheehan explains: “Studying animals and their habitat at the Wave Hub site is difficult because the seabed is compromised of rocky ledges, boulders and gravel, is 60 m deep and is an extremely exposed site. It is also 8 km2, which is a large are to quantify.”
As well as monitoring the effects of wave energy on sea birds and cetaceans (whales and dolphins), the team led by Sheehan will survey the ecological impact of Wave Hub’s construction and see how the area’s fauna and habitats change as a result of the development.