Renewable energy homes for marine life: Habitat potential of a tidal energy project for benthic megafauna

An increasing number of offshore structures are being deployed worldwide to meet the growing demand for renewable energy. Besides energy production, these structures can also provide new artificial habitats to a diversity of fish and crustacean species. This study characterises how concrete mattresses that stabilise the submarine power cable of a tidal energy test site can increase habitat capacity for benthic megafauna. A five-year monitoring, which relied on both visual counts and video-based surveys by divers, revealed that these mattresses provide a suitable habitat for 5 taxa of large crustaceans and fish. In particular, two commercially valuable species, i.e. the edible crab Cancer pagurus and the European lobster Homarus gammarus, showed a constant occupancy of these artificial habitats throughout the course of the project. The shape and the number of shelters available below individual mattresses largely determine potential for colonisation by mobile megafauna. Local physical characteristics of the implantation site (e.g. substratum type, topography, exposition to current etc.) significantly impact amount and type of shelters provided by the concrete mattresses. Thus, to characterise habitat potential of artificial structures, it is not only essential to consider (i) the design of the structures, but also to (ii) account for their interactions with local environmental conditions when deployed on the seafloor.


Artificial habitats, Marine renewable energy, Crustacean, Fish, Habitat

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Taormina Bastien, Laurans Martial, Marzloff Martin, Dufournaud Noémie, Lejart Morgane, Desroy Nicolas, Leroy Didier, Martin Stephane, Carlier Antoine (2020). Renewable energy homes for marine life: Habitat potential of a tidal energy project for benthic megafauna. Marine Environmental Research. 161. 105131 (11p.).,

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