Modifying structures for biodiversity enhancement
In recent years, an increasing amount of research has been directed towards the idea of enhancing the ecological value of coastal structures. This includes work being undertaken by the universities of Aberystwyth, Bournemouth, Glasgow and Southampton who are all exploring ways of enhancing marine biodiversity by modifying existing rocky shores or altering the surface roughness and physical complexity of new and existing marine structures (e.g. coastal defences or renewable energy infrastructure). Generally they are showing how intertidal biodiversity can be enhanced at sites where the amount of available niches for marine life is increased.
Taking this idea forward, Wightlink Ltd has mounted six artificial rock pools on the vertical face of their mooring berth on the Fishbourne Car Ferry Terminal (Isle of Wight). This was done as an ecological enhancement measure (at the request of regulators) to help offset any small-scale effects arising from Wightlink’s recent upgrade of this terminal. These pools were designed and built for Wightlink and ABPmer by Artecology. Five of these pools were made of concrete and were sculpted in bespoke moulds that had complex and varying external textures. Another pool had a unique design with a stainless steel wall and shingle base.
ABPmer was Wightlink’s environmental advisor on the planning application for the Fishbourne terminal upgrade and, now that this development has been successfully consented and constructed, we have started to also monitor this rock pool array. The pools are not readily accessible and, so, to safely examine them, we use a high-definition underwater camera mounted on a long pole. This allowed us to have a look at them both inside and out. As they are small and have only been in place a few months few of the expected marine animals (such as barnacles, limpets or periwinkles) have found their way onto or into them. However, a shore crab was visible in one pool and a mix of different algae species has developed on all of them. We will continue to monitor them to see how they develop over the coming years.
If you're interested in doing something similar call Colin Scott on +44 (0) 2380 711860.
Prepared by Colin Scott, Habitat Creation Specialist
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