The world’s growing demand for sustainable and environmentally friendly energy has led a growing number of countries to explore the options for the installation of offshore wind farms. In particular, noise emissions during the construction phase, when, in many cases, steel foundations are driven into the seafloor, are expected to cause temporal avoidance of the area by marine mammals and even have the potential to inflict physical damage to their sensory system (Madsen et al. 2006).
The harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) is the only regularly occurring cetacean species in the German North Sea. Due to its wide distribution, all wind farm constructions in the North Sea inevitably affect this species to a certain extent. To assess these impacts, a profound knowledge of the behavior of the species in relation to noise levels created by offshore pile driving is essential. The main task is to describe the temporal and spatial extent of disturbance and thereby assess the scale of habitat exclusion.
During two different wind farm construction projects in the North Sea, we examined the impacts of offshore pile driving on harbor porpoises using passive acoustic monitoring (T-PODs).