Corals, Fish, and Energy in Maryland – Watts the connection?

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Yes Virginia, there are corals in Maryland…

The debate about offshore wind power development often targets negative impacts on marine life. But Dr. Bradley Stevens, a Professor of Marine and Environmental Science at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, will explain how new research suggests that it might actually be beneficial. Gorgonian corals called “sea whips” (Leptogorgia virgulata) are common off the coast of Maryland and Virginia, where they form small patch reefs up to a meter in height. Sea whips live 15-20 years, but successful reproduction may only occur at 10-20 year intervals. Reefs provide shelter for fish like black sea bass and tautog, so are targeted by both recreational and commercial fishers, but fishing damages the corals, which may require decades to recover. Construction of offshore wind turbines could impact coral and fish habitats, but is more likely to increase available habitat, leading to increased fish populations.

Dr. Bradley Stevens is a Professor of Marine and Environmental Science at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. He worked in Kodiak, Alaska, for over 20 years before coming to UMES, where he uses scuba and underwater video to study fish, crabs, conchs, and corals. He tells his graduate students “Always study something you can eat”.

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