Records of five bryozoan species from offshore gas platforms rare for the Dutch North Sea
© The Author(s) 2016
Received: 13 June 2016
Accepted: 14 July 2016
Published: 11 October 2016
This study reports on bryozoan species collected at three offshore gas platforms in the Dutch part of the North Sea. Four out of thirteen observed species are considered as rare in the Netherlands, whereas Cribrilina punctata is a new species for Dutch waters.
The Dutch continental shelf of the North Sea largely consists of sandy bottoms. Rocky substrates are only present on the Cleaver Bank (Schrieken et al. 2013), the Borkum Reef Grounds (Coolen et al. 2015) and the Texel Rough (personal observation J.W.P. Coolen). Furthermore, artificial hard substrates are formed by shipwrecks (Lengkeek et al. 2013a), wind farms (Lindeboom et al. 2011; Vanagt et al. 2013) and gas platforms (Van Buuren 1984; Van der Stap et al. 2015).
Bryozoa grow on various hard substrates such as rocks, shells, wood, and plastic material, but also on macroalgae and Hydrozoa (De Blauwe 2009). Previous observations of Bryozoa in the Netherlands concentrated on southern coastal areas (Faasse and De Blauwe 2004). Faasse et al. (2013) recently reviewed the list of known Dutch Bryozoa which now comprises a total of 58 marine and estuarine species. They excluded specimens found on beached material, but included fauna from several recent offshore surveys of the Cleaver Bank (Van Moorsel 2003), the Princess Amalia Wind Farm (PAWF; Vanagt et al. 2013) and a shipwreck on the sandy Dogger Bank (Schrieken et al. 2013).
This article reports on the finding of 13 bryozoan species on three offshore gas platform in the Dutch part of the North Sea. Of these species, Cribrilina punctata is new to the Dutch fauna, and four species are considered rare to the Dutch waters.
Materials and methods
Three offshore gas platforms were visited during several inventories in 2014 and 2015. The platforms differed in their distance from shore, depth at the seabed and year of construction
Distance from shore (km)
Maximum depth (m)
Year of construction
April and June 2014, October 2015
For identification Hayward and Ryland (1998), Hayward and Ryland (1999) and De Blauwe (2009) were consulted. The World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS Editorial Board 2015) was used as a taxonomic standard. Specimens were observed using a Zeiss SteREO Discovery.V8 stereomicroscope. When a specimen was covered by a thin layer of organic material which impeded observing the zooids, it was immersed in bleach for half an hour, then rinsed and dried in order to reveal the calcified skeleton.
Bryozoa species encountered on the platform legs and/or the scour protection rocks at the bottom of the platforms L10-G, L10-A and L15-A
Scour protection rocks
Arachnidium fibrosum a
Cribrilina punctata a
Electra monostachys a
Scruparia ambigua a
Scruparia chelata a
The ctenostomatous Arachnidium fibrosum was encountered in two samples taken from the foundation of platform L10-G at 10 m depth. Both colonies were attached to Mytilus edulis. Another colony of A. fibrosum was observed on a scour protection rock collected at the bottom of platform L15-A. Zooids were arranged in rows, and the colonies were sometimes branched.
A colony of Electra monostachys comprising several dozens of zooids was found on one of the scour protection rocks from platform L10-G. De Blauwe (2009) described a radiating crust as being characteristic for the species; this shape was also observed here. In addition to the relatively long proximal spine and pair of shorter distally located spines, almost all zooids still had their 4–6 pairs of shorter spines located around the frontal membrane.
Two members of the genus Scruparia were encountered. Scruparia ambigua was observed in one sample attached to M. edulis collected at 10 m depth at platform L10-G, but detached specimens were found as well. Several samples from platform L10-A taken between 5 and 15 m depth also contained a number of S. ambigua colonies. Scruparia chelata was observed at different depths (5–25 m) on platforms L10-G and L10-A, both as detached specimens and attached to M. edulis.
Cribrilina punctata is easily confused with Collarina balzaci. According to Faasse and De Blauwe (2004) several observations of C. punctata had been wrongly identified in the past leading to the exclusion of C. punctata from the list of Dutch fauna. Moreover, Faasse et al. (2013) excluded specimens found on beached material.
In the Netherlands Arachnidium fibrosum had been observed before on empty shells in southern coastal waters of the North Sea at 5–10 m depth (De Blauwe 2009) and at the PAWF at 5, 10 and 17 m depth (Vanagt et al. 2013). This corresponds to our finding of the species at 10 m depth on Mytilus edulis. However, Vanagt et al. (2013) did not encounter the species on scour protection rocks at the bottom of the wind mill monopiles in contrast to our observation of A. fibrosum attached to rocks collected at 21 m and other observations on rocks from the Belgian Hinder Banks (Houziaux et al. 2008; De Blauwe 2009).
Absence of Fenestrulina delicia
Fenestrulina delicia Winston, Hayward and Craig, 2000 is an invasive species that has been present in European waters since 2002 or earlier (Wasson and De Blauwe 2014). It was reported in the Shetlands, in Northern Ireland, on the west coast of Scotland, on both sides of the English channel, in the North Sea along the coast of Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany as far as Helgoland and along the west coast of the UK (De Blauwe et al. 2014; Wasson and De Blauwe 2014). A majority of the locations inhabited by F. delicia are wind farms and gas platforms. It is therefore noteworthy that F. delicia was absent in our samples.
More species to be expected
In this study six species were encountered mainly on M. edulis shells attached to the platform foundation while four species were found exclusively on the scour protection rocks at the seafloor. This indicates differences in preferred substrate and environmental conditions between bryozoan species. Some hard substrate areas on the Dutch continental shelf, such as the Texel Rough, remain uninvestigated. Moreover, bryozoan species known from empty shells on sandbanks on the Belgian and British continental shelf can be expected to be discovered also on Dutch sandbanks nearby (Faasse et al. 2013).
This work was funded through the Wageningen UR TripleP@Sea Innovation programme (KB-14-007) and supported by GDF SUEZ E&P Nederland B.V., the Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij B.V., Wintershall Holding GmbH and EBN B.V. We are grateful to the staff of GDF SUEZ and the Bluestream dive team for their help during diving and sampling. The authors thank Naturalis Biodiversity Centre and the Natural History Museum Rotterdam for their cooperation in revising their specimens. We thank Britta Kind for her valuable comments on the manuscript and for providing data of several species records.
JCo designed the study, carried out the sampling and created the maps. JCo, EB and JL handled the samples in the lab and prepared them for taxonomic determination. EB, BW, JCu, HB and JL performed the taxonomic determination. EB collected data on observations of species at other locations and drafted the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
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