There is increasing awareness of the potential impacts of underwater noise on the behaviour and health of individual marine mammals, but high levels of uncertainty over the extent to which existing or new noise sources may result in population level impacts.
Current research aims to assess how noise from proposed offshore energy developments influences seal and cetacean distribution in these areas. Much of this work focusses on the potential impact of oil and gas exploration activity, work carried out through a Department of Energy & Climate Change contract to study the responses of cetaceans to a commercial seismic survey during September 2011.
Future work on underwater noise will include integration with our individual-based studies to better understand impacts on the conservation status of protected populations of harbour seals and bottlenose dolphins.
Further information on energy developments in the Moray Firth can be found in the Winter 2010 edition of the Moray Firth Partnership newsletter.
Bailey, H., Senior, B., Simmons, D., Rusin, J., Picken, G. & Thompson, P.M. (2010) Assessing underwater noise levels during pile-driving at an offshore windfarm and its potential effects on marine mammals. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 60: 888-897.
Hastie, G.D., Wilson, B., Tufft, L.H. & Thompson, P.M. (2003) Bottlenose dolphins increase breathing synchrony in response to boat traffic. Marine Mammal Science, 19: 74-84.