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Applied Ocean Research
Volume 101, 2020, 102226

A novel design to investigate the impacts of UV exposure on marine biofouling

Cierra Braga, Kelli Hunsucker, Harrison Gardner, Geoffrey Swain

Center for Corrosion and Biofouling Control, Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, FL, USA.

Abstract

Ultraviolet light (UV) is currently under investigation as an environmentally friendly alternative for antifouling prevention in the marine environment. A novel apparatus based on a Nautilus shell was designed, to test UV exposure on multiple surfaces with varying distances from a lamp source. Several proof of concept tests were conducted in-situ to determine if the Nautilus design would indeed be an effective method for studying UV in the marine environment. Specifically, the in-situ tests studied the effect of UVC (λ = 254 nm) exposure (continuous and one minute per day) on biofouling settlement at distances ranging from 25 mm to 275 mm. Continuous UV exposure resulted in minimal (≤5% total coverage) settlement, which consisted of biofilms. UV exposure of one minute per day had a greater biofouling settlement with trends observed in the community composition related to distance from the lamp. The coverage of soft fouling organisms decreased with increased distance from the lamp; meanwhile, hard fouling abundance increased with increasing distance. In order to investigate how UV impacts already established fouling, continuous exposure was then applied to a fully developed biofouling community. This resulted in a decrease in total fouling coverage across all distances and live barnacles were only present on surfaces at distances ≥200 mm from the lamp. Overall, the Nautilus design presented a viable option for studying UV in the marine environment and allowing for the identification of UV tolerances within fouling communities.

Keywords: Ultraviolet light, UVC, Biofouling, Ship hull coatings.

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