Bureau Waardenburg
Varkensmarkt 9
4101 CK Culemborg
the Netherlands
T: +31 (0) 345 512710
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Onderzoek harde substraten in de Noordzee
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Expertise of hard substrates in the North Sea

In 2013, we investigated a total of ten wrecks in the North Sea. This study was the first to systematically look at the biodiversity on wrecks since the 1990s. Knowledge on the ecology of hard substrates as been a core area of expertise at Bureau Waardenburg for the past few decades.


Research on wrecks 2013

In 2013, Bureau Waardenburg has undertaken a study into the biodiversity on ship-wrecks on behalf of the Dutch Government and the Department of Infrastructure and the Environment. A total of ten wrecks within 75 km of the Dutch coast were visited by marine ecologists and professional divers.

Biodiversity on wrecks

This research revealed some unique findings about the biodiversity of wrecks. A total of 165 species of animal were recorded across the ten wrecks This included five that were new for the Netherlands and 64 that had not previously been recorded on wrecks in the Dutch Continental Shelf. Each wreck was home to an average of 57 animal species, and 65 of the 165 species recorded were observed on just one wreck. Every wreck had its own unique communities with its own unique species. The most unique species on a single wreck was 17 on the Tubantia. 

Researching wrecks since the 1990s

Since the early 1990s, more than 20 wrecks have been systematically studies in six different years. Approximately 120 species were recorded on the hard substrates around the wrecks. The importance of artificial hard substrates has recently been highlighted in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

Wind turbines and rocks to the Cleaver Bank and Dogger Bank

Our expertise extends beyond wrecks. In the past years we have investigated the communities of the Doggers Bank, the Cleaver Bank, at the first Dutch offshore wind farm in the North Sea (OWEZ) and at the Borkum Reef. We have recently produced a number of new publications.

Professional divers and sampling

Our expertise covers a range of research techniques and we also develop innovative methods ourselves. Our team of marine ecologists includes professional divers, which ensures the maximum value of dives. Besides experience with underwater cameras, our ecologists make use of other imaging techniques such as a drop-cam and sonar. When necessary we collect samples for later analysis in the lab.

Contact person:

Reports (English summaries are available for most publications, please contact us for more information):

Lengkeek, W., K. Didderen, M. Dorenbosch, S. Bouma & H.W. Waardenburg, 2013. Biodiversiteit van kunstmatige substraten.  Een inventarisatie van 10 scheepswrakken op het NCP. Rapport 13-226. Bureau Waardenburg, Culemborg.

Didderen, K., W. Lengkeek, J.W.P. Coolen & H.W. Waardenburg, 2013. Harde substraten en biodiversiteit. Vooronderzoek naar kunstmatige objecten in de Noordzee (NCP). Rapport 12-181. Bureau Waardenburg, Culemborg.

Lengkeek, W., S. Bouma & H.W. Waardenburg, 2011. Een beschermde status voor wrakken in de Noordzee? Rapport 11-314. Bureau Waardenburg bv, Culemborg. Download

van Moorsel, G.W.N.M., H.W. Waardenburg & J. van der Horst, 1991. Het leven op en rond scheepswrakken en andere harde substraten in de Noordzee (1986 tot en met 1990) een synthese. Rapport 91.19. Bureau Waardenburg bv, Culemborg.

Selected publications:

Lengkeek W., J.W.P. Coolen, A. Gittenberger, N. Schrieken 2013. Ecological relevance of ship wrecks in the North sea. Nederlandse Faunischtische Mededelingen 41: 49-58.

Bouma S. & W. Lengkeek 2013. Benthic communities on hard substrates within the first Dutch offshore wind farm (OWEZ). Nederlandse Faunischtische Mededelingen 41: 59-68.

Schrieken, N., A. Gittenberger, J.W.P. Coolen, W. Lengkeek 2013. Marine fauna of hard substrata of the Cleaver bank and Dogger bank. Nederlandse Faunischtische Mededelingen 41: 69-79.

Leewis, R.J., G.W.N.M. van Moorsel & H.W. Waardenburg, 2000. Shipwrecks on the Dutch Continental Shelf as artificial reefs. P 419-433 in: Jensen, Collins & Lockwood (eds.), 2000. Artificial Reefs in European Seas. Kluwer, Dordrecht.

Fauna on a ship-wreck in the North Sea