2008 Annual Report
Gulf of Maine Research Institute

Spotlight on Science


DeepCWindAs energy prices climb ever higher, Maine is taking the lead on exploring the potential to utilize winds miles off shore as an energy source. The Gulf of Maine Research Institute is part of the DeepCwind consortium led by the University of Maine (for a full list of consortium members, go to www.deepcwind.org). DeepCwind is a national leader in deepwater offshore wind power and is working on the first deep water floating wind turbines in the United States. They are testing scale model turbines in the waters off Monhegan Island, 10 miles from the Maine coast. GMRI scientists are part of an environmental monitoring team investigating how fish and other marine life respond to the floating turbines.

Acoustics are used to measure how fish react to the wind turbines. It is believed that the fish will be attracted to the floating turbines, much in the same way that fish are attracted to floating debris in the open ocean and other “artificial reefs”. Fish seek out floating objects for a variey of reasons—it may be social, navigational or to avoid predators. In the open ocean, shelter can be scarce so fish take advantage of any floating structure, manmade or natural. Scientists measure the number of fish that spend time in the study area before the turbine is installed. Observations so far show relatively low levels of fish spending time in the areas where the turbines will be located. Similar observational work will be conducted once the turbine is in place to determine if fish change their behavior in response to the turbine’s presence.

Wind turbines floating in deep waters may also affect marine mammals. Andrew Pershing, an Ecosystem Modeler at GMRI, works to characterize the sounds given off by turbines that may impact whales in the area. He also collects marine mammal sighting data from other groups to learn more about their presence near the proposed turbines.

Deepwater offshore wind turbines present an exciting opportunity for Maine to reduce its carbon emissions while providing clean, renewable power to the Northeast. GMRI’s research help ensures this power doesn’t come at the expense of marine wildlife.  


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