Underwater operational noise level emitted by a tidal current turbine and its potential impact on marine fauna
Marine renewable energy development raised concerns over the impact of underwater noise. Here we assess the acoustic impacts of an operating tidal current turbine (Paimpol-Bréhat site, France) on marine fauna. Its source level (SL) has been measured in situ using 19 drifting transects at distances between 100 m to 2400 m from the turbine. SL ranged from 118 to 152 dB re1 μ[email protected] m in third-octave bands at frequencies between 40 and 8192 Hz. It is comparable to the SL of a 19 m boat travelling at 10kt speed. This SL was used to estimate the impact of this noise type based on acoustic propagation simulations. The acoustic footprint of the device corresponds to a 1.5 km radius disk. Our results show that within this area of greatest potential impact, physiological injury of the hearing apparatus of invertebrates, fishes and marine mammals is improbable. Behavioral disturbance may occur up to 1 km around the device for harbor porpoises only. This is of little concern for a single turbine. However, greater concern on turbine noise impact, particularly on behavioral reactions has to be granted for a farm with up to 100 turbine. The lack of consolidated knowledge on behavioral disturbances identifies the needs for specific research programs.
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