Offshore Wind Turbines Act As Sanctuary To Marine Life

Offshore wind turbines were originally designed to generate power, but they may be serving another important and unexpected purpose: Creating marine sanctuaries for wildlife.

This was seen with Dominion Energy‘s wind turbines that were installed 27 miles off the coast of Virginia. The company initially installed two turbines to conduct research, and they discovered that the turbines quickly became a haven for fish and marine life.

In an interview with The Virginian Pilot, Scott Lawton, an environmental technical adviser for Dominion, said, “It’s just amazing the fish ecosystem that is growing around those turbines.”

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

If you were to fly or boat over the area off the coast of Virginia that houses the turbines, you’d see over 400ft of the wind turbine sticking out from the water. However, below the surface, there’s an additional 120 feet.

It’s around that 120 feet of steel that biodiversity is increasing and marine life is thriving. Mussels and algae attach to the steel, while seabass, baitfish, Mahi, and more, circle the structure.

Photo: flickr/NOAA’s National Ocean Service

According to The Virginian Pilot, periodic videos were taken underwater of the turbines and the change in marine life was dramatic. In the early videos, the steel is largely bare, but after months had passed, they had become a hub of marine life, with many fish feeding on the algae attached to the turbines.

Apparently, this isn’t the first time something like this has been observed. According to Deutsche Welle, a similar occurrence took place off the coast of Scandinavia when offshore wind turbines were installed.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

DW noted that the wind turbines created “artificial reefs,” and attracted mollusks and small fish that feed on plankton. The reef-like environment that was created didn’t stop at impacting smaller fish, but continued to impact further up the food chain all the way to seals and dolphins.

Of course, further research is needed on how offshore turbines affect the environment, but the early results are promising. Often, human activity ends up harming the environment and ruining delicate ecosystems. Hopefully, we’ll continue to see thriving marine life where turbines are installed!

You can learn more about Dominion Energy’s offshore turbines at www.coastalvawind.com.

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