The impact of underwater noise on fish
A three-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership between HR Wallingford and the University of Exeter is being launched this month to predict the impact of underwater noise on fish.
Behavioural ecologist Dr Rick Bruintjes will work with Dr Diane Jones and her team on developing the HR Wallingford HAMMER (Hydro-Acoustic Model for Mitigation and Ecological Response) to incorporate behavioural response of marine species to noise from marine renewable energy devices (MRED) during construction and operation. HAMMER is an underwater noise propagation model which predicts noise levels at distance from a point source. The tool can also be used to investigate the impact of underwater noise on species behaviour
Changes in the aquatic soundscape can alter fishes’ natural habitats and may disrupt their behavioural patterns such as migration, detecting prey and predators, breeding, feeding, and sheltering. Construction and operation of MRED have the potential to cause long-term disturbance.
Dr Jones explains: “We will investigate the behavioural and physiological responses of marine fish to underwater noise from MRED, and use this knowledge to build an individual based model (IBM) to predict the response of fish to noise for Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA). By working with fish experts at the University of Exeter, the behavioural and physiological parameters needed to realistically predict responses of fish to underwater noise will be identified and incorporated into the IBM.”
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