Currently, there is great uncertainty surrounding the environmental impacts of tidal turbines on marine mammals; one major concern derives from the potential for physical injury through direct contact with the moving structures of turbines. Collecting data to quantify these risks is challenging and methods for measuring movements underwater and interactions with turbines are limited. However, potential tools include a small number of cutting-edge technologies that are being used increasingly for research and monitoring; these include animal-borne telemetry, and active and passive acoustic tracking. Recent developments in these technologies are described along with their means of application in measuring fine-scale movements and avoidance or evasion responses by marine mammals around turbines. From a risk-characterization perspective, each technique can provide information to inform risk assessments or help parametrize collision risk models; however, each has its associated benefits and drawbacks and it is clear that, in isolation, none of them can provide all the data needed to address the problem. The three approaches appear highly complementary, with the strengths of one complementing the weaknesses in others; the solution to characterizing the risks posed by tidal turbines is likely to be a combination of such techniques.
This is a chapter from Humanity and the Sea: Marine Renewable Energy Technology and Environmental Interactions.