Turbulent, stratified flow through a suspended shellfish canopy: implications for mussel farm design

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Observations were used to quantify the influences of turbulent flow and mixing through the suspended canopy formed by a shellfish aquaculture farm in the microtidal Danish Limfjorden. Observations included current meter/profiler timeseries data and turbulence microstructure profiling. The influence was 2-way in that the turbulence is partially driven by the canopy and in turn the canopy is affected by the turbulence. The canopy reduced the flow speeds within its interior, which was sufficient to reduce levels of turbulent kinetic energy so that within-canopy rates of turbulent kinetic energy dissipation ε were between 10−8 and 5 × 10−6 m2 s−3. Stratification and turbulence were generally inter-related. It was difficult to link the canopy effect to changes in stratification. This was partly due to a high degree of natural variability and partly because the canopy did not appear to generate that much mixing relative to background variability. Vertical diffusivities enabled estimates of the effect of mixing on nutrient depletion and suggest that in the investigated farm set-up vertical diffusivities are secondary in terms of contribution to this relationship but that they could play a dominant role in farms with a more spacious or compressed set-up of canopies. However, vertical flux estimates imply that there must be transverse fluxes of material. Results suggest several avenues for enhanced sustainable shellfish production. For example, canopy flushing can be enhanced with suitable arrangement of crop within a farmed area (heterogeneity). In addition, stratification persists within the canopy and so exposure to nutrient-deplete water can be minimized through staggered crop heights. However, to benefit from this knowledge, improved understanding of long-term variability in the background environment is required.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAquaculture Environment Interactions
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)87-104
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


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