A team of researchers went to the Borssele III & IV wind farms to monitor the 2,400 outsourced flat oysters. The oyster tables were placed at the base of four wind turbines in October 2020. Ecologist Renate Olie is enthusiastic: "The baskets are full of life and the survival of the oysters is high, so that's good news."
In Blauwwind's wind farm, researchers are testing how oysters can survive on the seabed, and how oyster reefs can form. The oyster tables were lifted from the base of the wind turbine with the help of an underwater robot and placed on the research vessel.
Research flat oysters around wind turbines
Researchers from Eurofins AquaSense and The Rich North Sea investigated survival, growth and whether oyster larvae can be found. We can conclude that more than 96% of the oysters survived the winter. Many of those oysters have grown, so we know they're doing well. The underwater videos show a lot of life around the base of the wind turbines. With DNA research of the water and the underwater camera, dozens of different species have been observed. The sight of so many species is a good indication that the marine life within Blauwwind's wind farm is developing further.
It is the first time that the base of wind turbines has been used for placing oyster tables. To increase the chance of reproduction and the development of an oyster reef in this area, a layer of shells was also deposited around 8 wind turbines. This offers possibilities for the oyster larvae to attach. The next monitoring is planned for 2023. We hope to see that the first oysters have settled on the shell layer and stones around the wind turbine.
Working on a toolbox
With the projects, The Rich North Sea is gaining more knowledge and insight into nature enhancement in wind farms. With the large number of wind farms being built in the North Sea, the ecological limits of the North Sea are soon in sight. That is why a major effort must be made to enhance nature in and around the parks. In collaboration with the wind and water sector, science and government, The Rich North Sea is developing a 'nature development toolbox' for wind farms in the Netherlands and serves as inspiration for projects worldwide.