Strong underwater sound waves not lethal for noise-sensitive species (young sea bass)

Unique experimental field research in marine Belgian wind farm shows: strong underwater sound waves not lethal for noise-sensitive species (young sea bass)


Impact assessments of offshore wind farm installations and operations on the marine fauna are performed in many countries. Yet, only limited quantitative data on the physiological impact of impulsive sounds on (juvenile) fishes during pile driving of offshore wind farm foundations are available. Our current knowledge on fish injury and mortality due to pile driving is mainly based on laboratory experiments, in which high-intensity pile driving sounds are generated inside acoustic chambers. To validate these lab results, an in situ field experiment was carried out on board of a pile driving vessel. Juvenile European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) of 68 and 115 days post hatching were exposed to pile-driving sounds as close as 45 m from the actual pile driving activity. Fish were exposed to strikes with a sound exposure level between 181 and 188 dB re 1 µPa².s. The number of strikes ranged from 1739 to 3067, resulting in a cumulative sound exposure level between 215 and 222 dB re 1 µPa².s. Control treatments consisted of fish not exposed to pile driving sounds. No differences in immediate mortality were found between exposed and control fish groups. Also no differences were noted in the delayed mortality up to 14 days after exposure between both groups. Our in situ experiments largely confirm the mortality results of the lab experiments found in other studies.


You can read the paper here. Authors: Elisabeth Debusschere, Bert De Coensel, Aline Bajek, Dick Botteldooren, Kris Hostens, Jan Vanaverbeke, Sofie Vandendriessche, Karl Van Ginderdeuren, Magda Vincx, Steven Degraer. 


The Dutch press release can be found here

Picture copyright: Karl Van Ginderdeuren.