In the framework of the Blue Forests project, WavEC Offshore Renewables, in collaboration with Polytechnic of Leiria and Centre of Marine Sciences (CCMAR), has been conducting underwater acoustic monitoring of sea forests habitats. The aim is to assess the potential of these ecosystems to attenuate underwater noise generated from anthropogenic activities.
In Peniche, WavEC team and MARE - Polytechnic of Leiria monitored two locations, one with kelp forest and one with no kelp coverage. The first survey was conducted in summer 2022, and two additional surveys were conducted last year, one in spring and one in summer. This allows for a comprehensive comparison between areas with and without vegetation, as well as the evaluation of different growth stages of the forest during different seasons.
In Ria Formosa, monitoring was carried out by WavEC and CCMAR in three locations. Data was acquired in an area of seagrass meadows composed by Cymodocea nodosa and Zostera marina, an area with no vegetation, and one with invasive Caulerpa prolifera species, that will later be compared.
It is important to note that Ria Formosa and Peniche have highly contrasting hydrodynamic environments with distinct acoustic propagation properties, thus allowing for robust characterisation of sound levels in different settings.
This monitoring effort will contribute to a better understanding of the uncertainties surrounding underwater noise propagation in vegetated seafloor forest habitats. Ultimately, it will help determine how reforestation efforts in these ecosystems can mitigate anthropogenic noise and reduce its potential harmful effects on marine life.
Project funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the Blue Growth program of EEA Grants: EEA Grants Portugal.