Likely effects of construction of Scroby Sands offshore wind farm on a mixed population of harbour Phoca vitulina and grey Halichoerus grypus seals

E.R. Skeate, M.R. Perrow, J.J. Gilroy

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23 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Scroby Sands offshore wind farm was built close to a haul-out and breeding site for harbour seal, a species of conservation concern. An aerial survey programme conducted during a five-year period spanning wind farm construction, revealed a significant post-construction decline in haul-out counts. Multivariate model selection suggested that the decline was not related to the environmental factors considered, nor did it mirror wider population trends. Although cause and effect could not be unequivocally established, the theoretical basis of hearing in pinnipeds and previous studies suggested that extreme noise (to 257dB re 1μ Pa @ 1m) generated by pile-driving of turbine bases led to displacement of seals. A lack of full recovery of harbour seal during the study was also linked to their sensitivity to vessel activity and/or rapid colonisation of competing grey seal. Any impact of offshore wind farm development upon pinnipeds would be much reduced without pile-driving.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)872-881
Number of pages10
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Volume64
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2012

Keywords

  • Pinniped
  • Haul-out
  • Offshore wind far
  • Pile-driving
  • Construction noise
  • Aerial survey

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