Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Empirical determination of severe trauma in seals from collisions with tidal turbine blades

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

DOI

Open Access Status

  • Embargoed (until 14/05/20)

Abstract

1. Tidal energy converters (turbines) are being developed in many countries as part of attempts to reduce reliance on hydrocarbon fuels. However, the moving blades of tidal turbines pose potential collision risks for marine animals. Accurate assessment of mortality risk as a result of collisions is essential for risk management during planning and consenting processes for marine energy developments. In the absence of information on the physical consequences of such collisions, predicting likely risks relies on theoretical collision risk models. The application of these at a population level usually assumes that all collisions result in mortality. This is unlikely and the approach therefore produces upwardly biased estimates of population consequences.

2. In this study, we estimate the pathological consequences of direct collisions with tidal turbines using seal carcasses and physical models of tidal turbine blades. We quantify severe trauma at a range of impact speeds and to different areas of seal carcasses. A dose–response model was developed with associated uncertainty to determine an impact speed threshold of severe trauma to use in future collision risk models.

3. Results showed that severe trauma was restricted to the thoracic region, with no evidence of injury to the lumbar or cervical spine. Pathological indicators of mortality were only predicted to occur in collision speeds in excess of 5.1 m/s (95% C.I. 3.2–6.6) and was affected by body condition; increasing blubber depth reduced the likelihood of severe trauma.

4. Synthesis and applications. This study provides important information for policy makers and regulators looking to predict the potential impacts of tidal turbines on marine mammals. We demonstrate that the probability of severe trauma in seals due to collisions with turbine blades is highly dependent upon collision speed, and that the majority of predicted collisions are unlikely to cause fatal skeletal trauma. We recommend that collision risk models incorporate appropriate mortality assumptions to ensure accurate estimates of the population consequences are produced in risk assessments for tidal turbine deployments.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Applied Ecology
VolumeEarly View
Early online date14 May 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 May 2019

    Research areas

  • Collision risk, Marine mammals, Marine spatial planning, Pathology, Pinnipeds, Renewable energy, Seals, Tidal turbines

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Seals and shipping: quantifying population risk and individual exposure to vessel noise

    Jones, E. L., Hastie, G. D., Smout, S., Onoufriou, J., Merchant, N. D., Brookes, K. L. & Thompson, D., Dec 2017, In : Journal of Applied Ecology. 54, 6, p. 1930-1940

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Investigations into the interactions between harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) and vessels in the inner Moray Firth

    Onoufriou, J., Jones, E. L., Hastie, G. D. & Thompson, D., 2016, Scottish Government. 47 p. (Scottish Marine and Freshwater Science; vol. 74, no. 24)

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

  3. Harbour seals avoid tidal turbine noise: implications for collision risk

    Hastie, G. D., Russell, D. J. F., Lepper, P., Elliott, J., Wilson, B., Benjamins, S. & Thompson, D., Mar 2018, In : Journal of Applied Ecology. 55, 2, p. 684-693 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Dynamic habitat corridors for marine predators: intensive use of a coastal channel by harbour seals is modulated by tidal currents

    Hastie, G. D., Russell, D. J., Benjamins, S., Moss, S., Wilson, B. & Thompson, D., Dec 2016, In : Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 70, 12, p. 2161–2174 14 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Journal of Applied Ecology (Journal)

    Jason Matthiopoulos (Editor)
    2007 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

Related by journal

  1. Harbour seals avoid tidal turbine noise: implications for collision risk

    Hastie, G. D., Russell, D. J. F., Lepper, P., Elliott, J., Wilson, B., Benjamins, S. & Thompson, D., Mar 2018, In : Journal of Applied Ecology. 55, 2, p. 684-693 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Marine mammals and sonar: dose-response studies, the risk-disturbance hypothesis and the role of exposure context

    Harris, C. M., Thomas, L., Falcone, E., Hildebrand, J., Houser, D., Kvadsheim, P., Lam, F-P. A., Miller, P., Moretti, D. J., Read, A., Slabbekoorn, H., Southall, B. L., Tyack, P. L., Wartzok, D. & Janik, V. M., Jan 2018, In : Journal of Applied Ecology. 55, 1, p. 396-404

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

  3. Counting chirps: acoustic monitoring of cryptic frogs

    Measey, G. J., Stevenson, B. C., Scott, T., Altwegg, R. & Borchers, D. L., Jun 2017, In : Journal of Applied Ecology. 54, 3, p. 894-902 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Seals and shipping: quantifying population risk and individual exposure to vessel noise

    Jones, E. L., Hastie, G. D., Smout, S., Onoufriou, J., Merchant, N. D., Brookes, K. L. & Thompson, D., Dec 2017, In : Journal of Applied Ecology. 54, 6, p. 1930-1940

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 258534165