Shipwrecks and underwater objects of the southern Baltic - Hard substrata islands in the brackish, soft bottom marine environment

Piotr Balazy , Ula Copeland , Adam Sokołowski


Objects of anthropogenic origin submerged in the sea, such as shipwrecks, may induce significant environmental changes in their close proximity. There may be more than 100 000 shipwrecks in the Baltic Sea, however to date, their effects on biodiversity by the introduction of large hard substrates in this typically low-evenness, species-poor ecosystem have received little attention. This study compared separately macrobenthic assemblages found on three different objects (an old torpedo house, a former submarine and a minesweeper) lying at various depths (2–21 m) in Puck Bay (the Gulf of Gdańsk, Baltic Sea), and corresponding assemblages in soft sediments from their close (5 m away) and far vicinity (50 m away). A total of 26 taxa of macrobenthic algae, vascular plants and fauna were recorded. Nineteen species were found directly on the study objects. Nine species among them were only found on the submerged objects but none was substrate specific. At two locations clear differences in the assemblage structure between seabed in the close proximity of submerged objects and the seabed located farther apart were noted. Higher species richness, abundance and diversity (measured as Shannon-Wiener H′) was recorded only in the location of the deepest object. Its high similarity (both in terms of the assemblage structure and S, N, H’) with the closest neighbouring sediments may indicate a direct impact of the object on the surrounding seabed. The submerged objects generally supported a two - three times higher number of species and a ∼25 times higher number of individuals (but not diversity) than the soft bottom in the vicinity. The shallowest object lying within the euphotic zone hosted the most species rich (on avg. 10 species/144 cm2) and abundant (on avg. 379 ind./144 cm2) assemblages. Differences in the assemblage structure found between different objects are most likely associated with depth related environmental variables. The results of the study can serve as a baseline for future investigations and for evaluation of local ecological effects of the artificial reef concepts, breakwaters and offshore wind farms.
Author Piotr Balazy
Piotr Balazy,,
, Ula Copeland (FOG/IG)
Ula Copeland,,
- Institute of Geography
, Adam Sokołowski (FOG/IO/DMEF)
Adam Sokołowski,,
- Division of Marine Ecosystems Functioning
Journal seriesEstuarine Coastal and Shelf Science, [Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science], ISSN 0272-7714, e-ISSN 1096-0015, (N/A 100 pkt)
Issue year2019
Publication size in sheets0.50
Article number106240
Keywords in Englishmacrobenthos, wreck, artificial hard substrate, inventory, Baltic sea, SCUBA
ASJC Classification1104 Aquatic Science; 1910 Oceanography
Languageen angielski
Score (nominal)100
Score sourcejournalList
ScoreMinisterial score = 100.0, 28-04-2020, ArticleFromJournal
Publication indicators Scopus SNIP (Source Normalised Impact per Paper): 2018 = 1.164; WoS Impact Factor: 2018 = 2.611 (2) - 2018=2.975 (5)
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