Two large scale offshore wind farms are to be built near the French Pays de la Loire Region coast. The impact of MRE production units impact on pelagic organisms is poorly known. Pelagic organisms are key ecosystem components, as they produce by photosynthesis and funnel the energy and biomass to upper trophic levels and other marine ecosystem components.
Scientific advances and innovation
The Ec(h)oSonde project will lead to the development of an integrated acoustic observatory including an innovative broadband echosounder. This will allow for a better characterisation of pelagic targets based on acoustic data with the broadband technology compared to narrowband echosounders. The coastal pelagic ecosystem in the vicinity of the Ec(h)oSonde will be continuously sampled at high spatial resolution for the first time, providing new insights on the temporal dynamics of zooplankton and fish from dial to seasonal scales.
The project will require the development of new data processing procedures to manage the big data flow from the observatory in near-real time.
Expected technical and economic impact
The Ec(h)oSonde project will provide new methods for integrated acoustic monitoring of marine renewable energy (MRE) impact on pelagic ecosystems.
It will provide a unique high-resolution dataset on the local coastal pelagic ecosystem prior to the building of the windmill farm.
Key project milestones
- April 2017 - Project kickoff
- June 2017 - Broadband echosounder testing, first sea survey in the SEM-REV area: hydrobiological and broadband acoustic data collection
- October 2017 - Second sea survey: hydrobiological and acoustic data collection
- June 2018 - Extensive sea survey: hydrobiological and broadband acoustic data collection
- October 2018 - fourth sea survey: hydrobiological and broadband acoustic data collection; building of the Ec(h)oSonde prototype
- March-april 2019 - Ec(h)oSonde first deployment; fifth sea survey: hydrobiological and broadband acoustic data collection
- October 2019 - Sixth sea survey: hydrobiological and broadband acoustic data collection
- September 2020 - Final workshop
The Ec(h)oSonde project aims at developing a prototype of integrated acoustic observatory to monitor the impact of renewable marine energy (RME) on coastal pelagic ecosystems. The Ec(h)oSonde demonstrator will be deployed in the Centrale Nantes SEM-REV sea test site, next to the future Saint Nazaire’s offshore wind farm.
The Ec(h)oSonde echosounder allows for the resolution and broadband acoustic characterisation of individual, millimetric, mesozooplankton organisms up to 30 m away from the observatory.
Thick Sound Scattering Layers (SSLs) made of zooplankton, small fish and jellyfish were consistently observed in the SEM-REV area in spring. SSLs were far less dense in autumn.
Millimetric to centimetric jellyfish were the dominant organisms sampled in the SEM-REV area in spring.
Extensive layers of dead plankton organisms were observed in spring 2018, following a strong microalgae bloom.
Millimetric zooplankton crustaceans dominated the pelagic community in autumn.
Building on the experience gained during the project to develop a more versatile and enduring EchoSonde 2.0 that could be deployed in all offshore MRE production sites to help monitoring their impacts on the local pelagic ecosystems