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NORCE research team sampling eDNA at Hywind Scotland Photo credit Jessica Ray NORCEA pilot study completed by Equinor and Norwegian Research Centre (NORCE) has been successful in using environmental DNA (eDNA) to monitor the biodiversity and abundance of marine life in waters around the floating Hywind Scotland wind farm. 
The pilot study took place in August 2021, at Equinor’s Hywind Scotland offshore wind farm, located 25 km east of Peterhead in Scotland. The field work was conducted by NORCE with support from Ocean Science Consulting (OSC). After the samples were taken, lab work was undertaken to analyse the samples using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) DNA sequencing. 
By analysing the eDNA content in water samples, Equinor and NORCE were able to measure the biodiversity of fish species in the water surrounding Hywind Scotland. This pilot study was conducted to learn more about the potential effects that floating offshore wind farms may have on marine habitats. eDNA is genetic material that is released from organisms into their surrounding environment, such as soil, air, sediment, or water. 
In the study it was identified that there were in total twenty-six fish species in the area. There was no significant difference in biodiversity observed between the wind farm area and the reference zone, however, the relative abundance of sprat and herring were at the time of sampling higher in the wind farm area. There was also a faint eDNA signal from harbour porpoise recorded in the waters surrounding the wind farm. 
A similar-sized reference area, located approximately 10 km east of the wind farm, was also sampled to give comparative results. Five stations in each area were sampled at 10 m and 50 m depths. The samples were immediately filtered and preserved on board, kept dark and cool to reduce eDNA decay prior to analysis. 
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