Elanora Offshore is using new environmental DNA (eDNA) technology at its proposed offshore wind farm area, in order to gain a better understanding of the local marine environment and biodiversity.
Together with traditional environmental monitoring methods, the project is working with nature technology company NatureMetrics to analyse eDNA contained in water samples to understand the diversity of species living and passing through the wind farm area.
Local fishermen have been engaged to collect the water samples from Elanora Offshore’s proposed site – located far off the coast of Gippsland – which are then sent to laboratories for analysis.
Elanora Offshore CEO, Maya Malik, said that the project sees opportunities to employ new technologies to gain more accurate data that can be collected more efficiently, and in ways that are not intrusive.
“eDNA monitoring provides an opportunity to get a better picture of biodiversity at offshore wind sites faster and with minimal disturbance to the environment,” said Ms Malik.
“Minimising our impact is a priority. We are excited to be supporting the application of cutting-edge nature technologies on our project.”
Most fish and marine mammals leave tiny traces of DNA in the waters they travel through, called environmental DNA or eDNA. NatureMetrics has developed a way to capture this DNA from seawater samples.
A single water sample of around 5L contains enough DNA to provide a snapshot of the living species that have passed through that area from around two days before the sample was collected. Multiple samples can be compared to profile the state of an ecosystem over time.
An advantage of eDNA monitoring is it is non-intrusive and enhances traditional monitoring methods such as visual surveys.
Dr Joe Huddart of NatureMetrics said, “We are thrilled to be working with the Elanora Offshore team and Gippsland fishermen on this implementation of our eDNA technology. To our knowledge, this is the first application of eDNA monitoring for offshore wind in Australia.”