Harbour porpoises exhibit localized evasion of a tidal turbine


1.    Tidal energy generators have the potential to injure or kill marine animals, including small cetaceans, through collisions with moving turbine parts. Information on the fine scale behaviour of animals close to operational turbines is required to inform regulators of the likely impact of these new technologies.
2.    Harbour porpoise movements were monitored in three dimensions around a tidal turbine for 451 days between October 2017 and April 2019 with a 12-channel hydrophone array.
3.    Echolocation clicks from 344 porpoise events were localized close to the turbine. The data show that porpoises effectively avoid the turbine rotors, with only a single animal clearly passing through the rotor swept area while the rotors were stationary, and none passing through while rotating.
4.    The results indicate that the risk of collisions between the tidal turbine and porpoises is low; this has important implications for the potential effects and the sustainable development of the tidal energy industry.