Renewable energy sources: submarine cables that cause malformations in lobsters and crabs

With the expansion of marine renewable energy sources, the number of underwater power cables is rapidly increasing, introducing anthropogenic magnetic and electric fields into the marine environment. And, according to a study recently published in the Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, these devices, unfortunately, would have a very detrimental effect on the proper development of some underwater species.

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Lobsters, under the influence of electromagnetic fields

“Marine renewable energy devices are interconnected by cable networks, through which electricity is transported using high-voltage DC export cables,” the study explains. “Like all conductive cables, these power cables emit static electromagnetic fields of varying strength. Although standard electric field leaks can be successfully remedied by insulation, there is currently no standard insulation to prevent magnetic field leakage, ”we also learn.

Therefore, to determine the effects of these electromagnetic fields on underwater species, a group of researchers analyzed the development of 4,000 lobster eggs that were exposed to the waves. Thus, they were compared with another group of eggs, this time unaffected. And the results of tests conducted in the laboratory of the St. Abbes Naval Station in the UK are final.

If no significant difference was observed before hatching, then after hatching, the researchers observed, in particular, deformations in the shell (folded and swollen), in the claws, abdomen and tail fan. “Smaller curved tail, poor eye development and swollen body” were also observed in lobsters, Slate concludes. And if lobsters that grow near the waves are three times more likely to suffer from various malformations, they are also three times more likely to experience some difficulty practicing vertical swimming at “normal” speed. A detail that may seem trivial at first glance, but which is important if you know that this is how lobsters are selected on the surface of the water to feed.

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Crabs are also aimed at electromagnetic waves

Another species studied by the study: crab larvae. Following the same process, the research team again managed to make a relatively alarming diagnosis. If the results of the development of crab larvae near electromagnetic fields are not as dramatic as those of lobsters, they are still great! And no wonder, in general, the larvae of crabs have been described as smaller than usual, which could jeopardize their long-term survival.

So, since the development of these renewable energy sources is important, what can be done to avoid the dangers of underwater species that are exposed to the various devices needed to install them? “Previous research has shown that in situ measurements are not enough to provide a sound estimate of EMF emissions around cable deployment. The EMF intensity can be simulated, but the predicted values ​​vary depending on the properties of the cable, power transmission, cable layout and local geomagnetics. “, – the study says. Burying these cables in the seabed may be an effective solution, but it is considered expensive and limiting, Slate recalls.

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