Monitoring and surveys

Diving expedition on the Dogger Bank

In September 2021, a diving expedition took place on the Dogger Bank in the Dutch North Sea led by Waardenburg Ecology, with a team of various marine biologists from the World Wildlife Fund, Wageningen University & Research, ARK Nature Development and Dutch Maritime Productions. Together we went on a voyage of discovery to the Dogger Bank to end up in a beautiful world of marine life.

Dogger bank

The Dogger Bank is a relatively shallow part of the North Sea that is over 300 kilometers long. The vast majority of it has changed into a relatively barren sand banks due to intensive human activity. The ecosystem has apparently been disturbed, resulting in a significant decrease in biodiversity.
Nevertheless, besides the barren sand banks there are also shipwrecks; there the water is clear and calm and full of life. This makes such locations an ideal place for starting the recovery of a rich and diverse marine life on the Dogger Bank.

A diverse ecosystem

Our expedition members have experienced this firsthand. The divers visited three shipwrecks and observed cod, colonies of dead man's fingers (soft corals), large saltwater crabs and lobsters, schools of pouts and mackerel. Two shark eggs and an octopus were even present. Horse mussels were also found at all three shipwrecks; these mussels can grow up to 20 cm and form reefs that serve as habitats, shelters and spawning grounds for many other species. In this way they form a foundation for the marine ecosystem. As an experiment for active wildlife development, the divers moved horse mussels in baskets to a new location to assess how the mussels can expand.

As part of the TKI project BENSO, various sizes of rubble have been placed at a wreck. The stones provide a hard surface and an ideal structure for animals to attach themselves to and to hide in, which is impossible on a bare sandy bottom.
The BENSO project focuses on scour protection: boulders that protect the seabed around wind turbine poles against erosion. Scour protection can be designed to benefit species such as fish, crabs and lobsters. The results of the experiment will provide starting points for taking measures when constructing new offshore wind farms that can boost biodiversity within those farms.
Read the (Dutch) article about the Dogger Bank expedition on Ark nature development here