A marine radar, deployed by the NOC, has also monitored activity on and above the sea surface, mapping the extreme currents and waves at the site and tracking the behaviour of birds and marine mammals in the immediate area. Along with all the high tech instrumentation, a skilled birder, University of Aberdeen PhD, James Waggitt, made observations on high ground nearby which identified the times and types of seabirds diving for food within the site.
The researchers are working together to identify the wildlife and their behaviour detected by the monitoring systems. They will investigate how the various species choose to use areas of the water column with different physical characteristics, and how the surrounding environment is affected by the presence of this renewable energy structure.
By understanding behavioural preferences, they hope to be able to understand how changes to water flow and turbulence introduced might affect the various types of marine wildlife and identify their interaction with tidal technology.
The FLOWBEC team deployed the sea bed frame containing the sonar systems at the EMEC tidal energy test site for two weeks at the end of June, and have now begun processing the data. The early results were presented at the European Conference in Underwater Acoustics in Edinburgh last week (from July 2-6). The team will also be conducting studies at the WaveHub site off the Cornish coast, and in Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland.
Dr Philippe Blondel, Senior Lecturer in Physics and Deputy Director of the Centre for Space, Atmosphere and Ocean Science at the University of Bath, said: "Using waves and tides as a renewable energy source is more predictable than solar or wind energy, and of course there isn't the same visual impact. Tidal energy devices alter the local water flow and this project aims to measure and assess whether this has an effect on the wildlife around it.
"We'll be sharing the knowle
|Contact: Mike Douglas|
National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (UK)