Seals and porpoises are very sensitive to underwater sounds. To what extent are they affected by offshore wind farms? Researchers at Wageningen Marine Research are investigating this using field observations and computer models, as well as satellite transmitters.
It is tempting to imagine an offshore wind farm as an ideal playground for porpoises and seals, where they would not be disturbed by the shipping and fishing activities that are so abundant elsewhere.
However, in an interview with Sophie Brasseur of Wageningen Marine Research, Sophie highlights that marine mammals and wind farms are not necessarily a harmonious combination. “Many people think that noise is only a problem during wind turbine construction”, she says. “But in fact, the open sea is turned into a wind farm with entirely new structures. The building process also entails preparations and after construction there is the maintenance. Piling does indeed make a lot of noise, but that is not the only thing that may affect the animals.”
The noise impacts generated by offshore wind farms can be compounding and are often experience from the start of construction through to the wind farms respective management.
Throughout the interview with Wageningen Marine Research, Sophie Brasseur highlights the range of impacts, the resultant effects to seal and porpoise individual and populations and the need for knowledge-based decision making to limit further perturbations and disturbances.