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.

Underwater Sound Levels at a Wave Energy Device Testing Facility in Falmouth Bay, UK

Study Status: 
Princple Investigator Contact Information: 

Name: Joanne Garrett

Email: jkg205@exeter.ac.uk

Project Description: 

Passive acoustic monitoring devices were deployed at FaBTest in Falmouth Bay, UK, a marine renewable energy device testing facility during trials of a wave energy device. The area supports considerable commercial shipping and recreational boating along with diverse marine fauna. Noise monitoring occurred during (1) a baseline period, (2) installation activity, (3) the device in situ with inactive power status, and (4) the device in situ with active power status. This paper discusses the preliminary findings of the sound recording at FabTest during these different activity periods of a wave energy device trial.

Funding Source: 

This work was funded by the European Social Fund (ESF), the Peninsula Research Institute for Marine Renewable Energy (PRIMaRE), and Marine Energy in Far Peripheral and Island Communities (MERiFIC; funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Interreg IV-A Programme).

Location of Research: 

Falmouth Bay, UK

Project Aims: 

To characterize the underwater noise of a WEC during deployment, installation, and operation.

Project Progress: 


Key Findings: 

The baseline sound levels exhibit a maxima in the region of 100–1,000 Hz and decreasing sound levels of −2.1 ± 0.9 dB/one-third octave. Installation activity was found to increase sound levels by a median of 8.2 dB in the range of 10–5,000 Hz. The frequency of the loudest sounds during installation is considered to be below the optimal hearing range for cetaceans but within the hearing range of some species of fish . It is possible that this sound level (154.5 dB at 176 Hz at 1 m 5% of the time) could cause a physiological or behavioral response in fish. Sound levels during power production were found to be greater than during periods of nonoperation at some frequencies in the frequency range of ~50–100 Hz, around 1,433 and 1,966 Hz, and at frequencies >6 kHz.

Related Publications: 

Garrett, J.; Witt, M.; Johanning, L. (2016). Underwater Sound Levels at a Wave Energy Device Testing Facility in Falmouth Bay, UK. The Effects of Noise on Aquatic Life II (pp. 331-339). New York: Springer. https://tethys.pnnl.gov/publications/underwater-sound-levels-wave-energy-device-testing-facility-falmouth-bay-uk

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