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Journal of Renewable Energy
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 8727164, 13 pages
Research Article

A Comparison of Fishes and Invertebrates Living in the Vicinity of Energized and Unenergized Submarine Power Cables and Natural Sea Floor off Southern California, USA

1Marine Science Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA
2Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, 760 Paseo Camarillo, Camarillo, CA 93010, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to Milton S. Love

Received 3 April 2017; Accepted 22 August 2017; Published 2 October 2017

Academic Editor: Abhijeet P. Borole

Copyright © 2017 Milton S. Love et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Increasing reliance on deep-water renewable energy has increased concerns about the effects of the electromagnetic fields (EMFs) generated by submarine power cables on aquatic organisms. Off southern California, we conducted surveys of marine organisms living around energized and unenergized submarine power cables and nearby sea floor during 2012–2014 at depths between 76 and 213 m. In general, EMFs declined to background levels about one meter from the cable. We found no statistical difference in species composition between the fish assemblages along the energized and unenergized cables. The natural habitat community statistically differed from both energized and unenergized cable communities. Within species (or species groups), we found no differences in densities between energized and unenergized cables. Total fish densities were significantly higher around the cables than over the natural habitat. We found that invertebrate communities were structured by habitat type and depth and, similar to the fishes, there was no statistical difference between the energized and unenergized cables. Individually, the densities of four invertebrate species or species groups (Metridium farcimen, Luidia spp., unidentified black Crinoidea, and Urticina spp.) differed between energized and unenergized cables, but this difference was not significant across all depth strata. The invertebrate community inhabiting the natural habitat strongly differed from the energized and unenergized cable community exhibiting the fewest species and individuals.