Study shows human-built offshore structures can benefit seabirds

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A team of researchers from several institutions in the U.K. has found evidence that suggests some seabirds may benefit from the existence of human-built offshore structures. In their paper published in the journal Communications Biology, the group describes their study of foraging seabirds in a tidal channel near Northern Ireland and what they learned.

As we look for ways to replace such as gasoline with renewables such as solar, wind and hydro, conservationists worry that we might be causing harm to the environment. Birds being killed by or fried by solar farms are well-known examples. But building renewable structures offshore might actually be helping some wildlife, the researchers found. They conducted a study of a type of seabird as it foraged around a man-made jutting up from the sea—a decommissioned tidal just off the coast of Strangford Lough in a channel that empties into the Irish Sea.

The study started with the knowledge that terns tend to forage for fish over parts of the sea where there is some bit of turbulence—water moving around objects is forced to move up in some scenarios, bringing fish with it, making them easy prey for terns. The researchers refer to such turbulence as a wake. To find out if man-made objects might provide the same benefits, the researchers used drones to watch terns forage around the abandoned tidal energy turbine, around a small island, and near a natural whirlpool—each forced seawater into a unique type of wake.

The researchers report that they found the terns used all three sites as a hunting ground, but the man-made wake created by the tidal energy turbine was the clear favorite. They note that other studies have shown that wakes created by man-made objects are attractive to predators, but point out that theirs is the first example in which wildlife actually prefer them to natural sites. They suggest their findings indicate that adding more is likely to have a larger impact on marine life than has been previously thought, and some of it can be positive.


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More information: Lilian Lieber et al. Localised anthropogenic wake generates a predictable foraging hotspot for top predators, Communications Biology (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s42003-019-0364-z

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Citation: Study shows human-built offshore structures can benefit seabirds (2019, April 5) retrieved 21 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-04-human-built-offshore-benefit-seabirds.html
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Apr 05, 2019
What an astonishing piece of AGW Cult "science"...er...excuse me...bullshit.
So, birds are flocking to this decommissioned turbine over their natural feeding spots. Therefore, windmills that slaughter them, are good.
Brilliant.

Apr 06, 2019
As long as the turbine has been decommissioned and is no longer operative, it would be serving a purpose for the terns and others who like to use it. This transcends the AGW BS, as it is benefitting sea animals and not humans. It is like a little island in the middle of nowhere that birds can rest upon and possibly mate and raise their young.

Apr 07, 2019
Flotsam and jetsam
SEU> As long as the turbine has been decommissioned and is no longer operative, it would be serving a purpose for the terns and others who like to use it. This transcends the AGW BS, as it is benefitting sea animals and not humans. It is like a little island in the middle of nowhere that birds can rest upon and possibly mate and raise their young.

Wrecks, coral reefs, floating seaweed, any disused structure are put to good use by sea creatures
Winged or the finned variety

Apr 07, 2019
Animals are smart and opportunists. They look at something in a way that humans can't fathom, and then put that something to good use. That's what I call "a MacGyver moment". :)

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