News / Science & Technology

Seals Feast at Offshore Wind Farms

This harbor seal was among some 100 tagged with a GPS phone tag for the study. (Credit: Current Biology)
This harbor seal was among some 100 tagged with a GPS phone tag for the study. (Credit: Current Biology)
Rosanne Skirble

Offshore wind farms are harnessing more than wind. Seals are foraging for food at these offshore developments, according to a new study.

Study lead author Deborah Russell, with the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and her colleagues monitored the location and behavior of 100 seals off the British and Dutch coastlines by tracking GPS tags glued to the animals' backs. 

“It is actually quite interesting, the tags transmit that data through the mobile phone system," Russell said. "So they kind of send text messages about where the seals are and where they have been and information about their activity.”    

Seals Feast at Offshore Wind Farms
Seals Feast at Offshore Wind Farmsi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

The aim was to better understand the interaction between seals and wind turbines and underwater pipes. The scientists charted grid patterns with the GPS data that show seals visited the structures, sometimes repeatedly.  Russell says expected increase in the number of these structures is certain to have consequences. 

“The presence of an operational wind farm may make the area less attractive to mammals due to an increase in noise because of operating wind turbines," she said. "However, conversely, they may make the habitat more attractive by increasing prey availability, by decreasing fishing activity or in this case we think it is actually that the anthropogenic [manmade] structures can result in artificial reefs.”

Seals Feast at Offshore Wind Farmsi
X
July 23, 2014 6:34 PM
Scientist Deborah Russell, with the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, follows the tracks of a seal tagged with a GPS chip as it forages for food around off shore wind farms.

Scientist Deborah Russell explains the tracks of a seal tagged with a GPS chip as it forages for food around off shore wind farms.  

The artificial reef could set up a new dynamic in the food chain.  

“If the structures increase the overall abundance of prey in the environment, then they may provide the sustainable new foraging opportunities for these biotas [organisms in geographic region]," said Russell. "And in this case the structures should really be designed to maximize these ecological benefits.  However, in contrast if the prey, which were previously sparsely distributed, are simply concentrated at these structures, it makes them very vulnerable to be [[vacuumed]] up by marine predators such as seals.”  

These are issues that Russell says must be examined in future studies, to better inform decision makers and the public about the best development practices for the mammals and the ocean environment.

The study appears in the latest issue of the journal Current Biology.   

You May Like

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid