OES-Environmental distributes metadata forms (questionnaires) to solicit information from researchers around the world who are exploring the environmental effects of marine renewable energy. This page provides a description and contact information related to the research. Content is updated on an annual basis.

Harbour Seals Avoid Tidal Turbine Noise: Implications for Collision Risk

Study Status: 
Completed
Princple Investigator Contact Information: 

Name: Gordon Hastie

Email: gdh10@st-andrews.ac.uk

Project Description: 

We measured the behaviour of harbour seals in response to acoustic playbacks of simulated tidal turbine sound within a narrow coastal channel subject to strong, tidally induced currents. This was carried out using data from animal-borne GPS tags and shore-based observations, which were analysed to quantify behavioural responses to the turbine sound.

Funding Source: 

Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Grant/Award Number: SMRU1001; NERC & Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, Grant/Award Number: NE/ J004251/1

Location of Research: 

Kyle Rhea, Scotland

Project Aims: 
  1. To investigate the behavior of a marine mammal species in the presence of a simulated tidal turbine.
Project Progress: 

Completed

Key Findings: 

Results showed that the playback state (silent control or turbine signal) was not a significant predictor of the overall number of seals sighted within the channel. However, there was a localized impact of the turbine signal; tagged harbour seals exhibited significant spatial avoidance of the sound which resulted in a reduction in the usage by seals of between 11% and 41% at the playback location. The significant decline in usage extended to 500 m from the playback location at which usage decreased by between 1% and 9% during playback.

Related Publications: 

Hastie, G.; Russell, D.; Lepper, P.; Elliot, J.; Wilson, B.; Benjamins, S.; Thompson, D. (2018). Harbour Seals Avoid Tidal Turbine Noise: Implications for Collision Risk. Journal of Applied Ecology, 55(2), 684-693. https://tethys.pnnl.gov/publications/harbour-seals-avoid-tidal-turbine-noise-implications-collision-risk

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