Quirks & Quarks

Do offshore wind turbines generate noise that is harmful to marine life?

The noise generated by driving the piles into the ocean floor that fix the wind turbine in place can be disruptive to marine life, but only during construction

Dr. Paul Ryan from the School of Ocean Technology in the Marine Institute at Memorial University of Newfoundland says that hammering the piles that help fix offshore wind turbines in place do disturb some marine species.  For example harbour seals and porpoises will swim for cover when the construction is underway, but once the noise abates, they will return.  However, new regulations have been put in place to ensure that the construction of fixed offshore wind turbines does not occur during the times of year when these animals would be either birthing, in Spring, or intensely foraging, in the Fall.  The turbines themselves do make noise - called infra sound - but it is a very low frequency and not a concern in the water column.