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The effects of the construction of offshore wind farms on harbour porpoises

We are delighted to announce that results from our GESCHA 1 study on the effects of the construction of seven offshore wind farms in German waters between 2010 and 2013 on harbour porpoises are now published in Marine Ecology Progress Series (www.int-res.com/abstracts/meps/v596/p213-232/).

Investigations were conducted using acoustic porpoise monitoring data and noise measurements during construction of the first seven large-scale offshore wind farms in the German Bight, the majority of which was constructed using noise mitigation systems (NMS). We found a clear gradient in the decline of porpoise detections after piling, depending on noise level and distance to piling. Declines were found at sound levels exceeding 143 dB re 1 μPa²s (SEL05) and up to 17 km from piling. When only considering piling events with NMS, the maximum effect distance was 14 km and porpoise detections declined to a smaller extent. Within the vicinity of construction, porpoise detections declined several hours before the start of piling and were reduced for about 1−2 days after piling. Use of first generation NMS thus clearly reduced harbour porpoise disturbance. Since then, NMS have continuously improved and even stronger reductions of disturbance effects are expected in more recent projects.

Brandt MJ, Dragon AC, Diederichs A, Bellmann MA, Wahl V, Piper W, Nabe-Nielsen J, Nehls G (2018) Disturbance of harbour porpoises during construction of the first seven offshore wind farms in Germany. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 596:213–232.