Fish are a key part of the marine ecosystem likely to be affected by hydrokinetic tidal turbines, but little is known about their behavior around such obstacles in the natural environment. In September 2010, two DIDSON acoustic cameras were used to observe fish interactions with a commercial-scale turbine in Cobscook Bay, Maine. Twenty-two hours (nearly two tidal cycles) of footage were collected. Behaviors of individual fish and schools were classified (e.g., entering, avoiding, passing, or remaining in the wake of the turbine). We analyzed the effects of turbine motion (rotating or not rotating), diel condition (day or night), and fish size (small, ≤10 cm; large, >10 cm) on individual fish behaviors, and compared behaviors of individual fish to schools of fish. When the turbine was rotating, the probability of fish entering the turbine decreased by over 35 % from when it was not. The probability that fish would enter the turbine was higher at night than during the day, and this difference was greater for small fish than for large fish (probability of small fish entering = 0.147 day, 0.513 night; large fish = 0.043 day, 0.333 night). Fish were almost always present in the wake of the turbine. Schools of fish had a 56 % lower probability of entering the turbine than individual fish, and reacted at greater distances from the turbine (median distance of 2.5 m for schools, 1.7 m for individuals). This study indicates that fish behavior in response to tidal turbines appears to be similar to responses to obstacles such as trawls, and highlights the importance of environmental context in determining the effects of a tidal turbine on fish.
Fish Interactions with a Commercial-Scale Tidal Energy Device in the Natural Environment
Title: Fish Interactions with a Commercial-Scale Tidal Energy Device in the Natural Environment
January 01, 2015
Journal: Estuaries and Coasts
Viehman, H.; Zydlewski, G. (2015). Fish Interactions with a Commercial-Scale Tidal Energy Device in the Natural Environment. Estuaries and Coasts, 38(1), 241-252.