Bottom substrate and associated epibenthic biota of the FORCE tidal energy test site in the Minas Passage, Bay of Fundy
LE3 .A278 2012
Bachelor of Science
Environmental & Sustainability Studies
The bottom substrate and associated biological assemblages of the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) tidal in-stream turbine demonstration area in the Minas Passage, Bay of Fundy, were investigated to address information gaps in the assessment of potential impacts of tidal energy developments. Characterization of the seafloor was completed using qualitative and quantitative analyses of video surveys and still photographs collected during the 2008-2009 Environmental Assessment for the test site. Commonly observed species include Halichondria panicea (yellow breadcrumb sponge), Asteria vulgaris (a variety of seastar), Henricia sanguinolenta (bloodstar), and Urticina felina (Northern Red anemone). Still frames taken from videographic surveys were processed using ImageJ software for determination of percent cover of macrofaunal species in relation to various habitat features (cobbles, boulders, depth, etc.). Epifauna relationships with features of the physical environment in the Minas Passage were examined and distribution of benthic macrofauna was mapped as an aid to FORCE, project developers and environmental regulators. Given the observed low biodiversity and the prevalence of encrusting yellow breadcrumb sponge, risk to the benthic community following the installation of subsea infrastructure is likely to be low. The data and results presented will be used in future determinations of temporal changes in the benthic community and the assessment of potential impacts of and on installed subsea infrastructure (e.g. cables, gravity bases).
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