An important environmental issue facing the marine and hydrokinetic energy industry is whether fish that encounter underwater energy devices are likely to be struck and injured by moving components, primarily rotating turbine blades. The automated analysis of nearly 3 weeks of multibeam hydroacoustics data identified about 35,000 tracks of fish passing a tidal turbine in the East River, New York. These tracks included both individual fish and schools during periods with the turbine absent, the turbine present and operating, and the turbine present but not operating. The density of fish in the sampled area when the turbine was absent was roughly twice the density observed when the turbine was in place, particularly when the turbine was operating. This suggests that some avoidance occurred before fish were close enough to the turbine to be observed by the hydroacoustics system. Various measures of swimming behavior (direction, velocity, and linearity) were calculated for each track and evaluated for indication of behavioral responses to turbine presence and operation. Fish tracks were grouped based on tidal cycle, current velocity, and swimming direction and were evaluated with respect to turbine presence and operation and with respect to distance from the turbine. Nonparametric tests (Kolmogorov–Smirnov test) and multivariate analysis (canonical discriminant analysis) found significant differences among groups with respect to turbine presence and operation, suggesting that some fish responded to the turbine by adjusting swimming behavior, such as making small adjustments to swimming direction and velocity as they passed near the turbine. We found no evidence that fish were being struck by rotating blades, but there did appear to be large-scale avoidance initiated out of the range of the hydroacoustics detection system. More study is needed to determine whether such avoidance behavior has significant ramifications for normal fish movement patterns, bioenergetics, seasonal migrations, and predator exposure.
Hydroacoustic Assessment of Behavioral Responses by Fish Passing Near an Operating Tidal Turbine in the East River, New York
Title: Hydroacoustic Assessment of Behavioral Responses by Fish Passing Near an Operating Tidal Turbine in the East River, New York
August 02, 2017
Journal: Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Bevelhimer, M.; Scherelis, C.; Colby, J.; Adonizio, M. (2017). Hydroacoustic Assessment of Behavioral Responses by Fish Passing Near an Operating Tidal Turbine in the East River, New York. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 146(5), 1028-1042.