Sounding out renewables
23 February 2009
Most people wouldn't dispute that generating energy from wave or tidal power is good for the environment. But what is the impact of underwater devices used to harness energy on marine animals like whales, dolphins and fish?
Science writer and broadcaster Richard Hollingham meets marine biologist Ben Wilson from the Scottish Association for Marine Science to find out.
Researchers were concerned that turbines would be noisy underwater. But Ben had a slightly different concern. If a whale or a dolphin ran into the blades of a fast-moving turbine, it would almost certainly come off badly injured. He wondered if turbines are noisy enough for marine animals to hear them in time to take evasive action. This makes the shape and design of underwater turbines crucial to protect whales, dolphins and fish. They need to be noisy enough for sea creatures to avoid them but quiet enough to minimise noise pollution.
Click the play button above to listen now.
Ben uses hydrophones to building up a picture of the different sounds in the sea. Far from being silent, he has found a huge range of different noises in the sea which vary depending on where you are.
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