[MARMAM] New Article: Empirical determination of severe trauma in seals from collisions with tidal turbine blades

Joseph Onoufriou jojo.onoufriou at gmail.com
Thu Apr 4 08:37:37 PDT 2019

New Article: Empirical determination of severe trauma in seals from
collisions with tidal turbine blades


We are pleased to announce the publication of our new paper in Journal of
Applied Ecology:

Onoufriou, J. , Brownlow, A. , Moss, S. , Hastie, G. and Thompson, D.
(2019) Empirical determination of severe trauma in seals from collisions
with tidal turbine blades. J Appl Ecol. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:
10.1111/1365-2664.13388 <https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.13388>


1.Tidal energy converters (turbines) are being developed in many countries
as part of attempts to reduce reliance on hydrocarbon fuels. However, the
moving blades of tidal turbines pose potential collision risks for marine
animals. Accurate assessment of mortality risk as a result of collisions is
essential for risk management during planning and consenting processes for
marine energy developments. In the absence of information on the physical
consequences of such collisions, predicting likely risks relies on
theoretical collision risk models. The application of these at a population
level usually assumes that all collisions result in mortality. This is
unlikely and the approach therefore produces upwardly biased estimates of
population consequences.

2.In this study, we estimate the pathological consequences of direct
collisions with tidal turbines using seal carcasses and physical models of
tidal turbine blades. We quantify severe trauma at a range of impact speeds
and to different areas of seal carcasses. A dose‐response model was
developed with associated uncertainty to determine an impact speed
threshold of severe trauma to use in future collision risk models.

3.Results showed that severe trauma was restricted to the thoracic region,
with no evidence of injury to the lumbar or cervical spine. Pathological
indicators of mortality were only predicted to occur in collision speeds in
excess of 5.1 m.s−1 (95% c.i. 3.2 to 6.6) and was affected by body
condition; increasing blubber depth reduced the likelihood of severe trauma.

4*.Synthesis and applications*. This study provides important information
for policy makers and regulators looking to predict the potential impacts
of tidal turbines on marine mammals. We demonstrate that the probability of
severe trauma in seals due to collisions with turbine blades is highly
dependent upon collision speed, and that the majority of predicted
collisions are unlikely to cause fatal skeletal trauma. We recommend that
collision risk models incorporate appropriate mortality assumptions to
ensure accurate estimates of the population consequences are produced in
risk assessments for tidal turbine deployment

please feel free to e-mail me at *jo26 at st-andrews.ac.uk
<jo26 at st-andrews.ac.uk>* if you have any questions.

Best wishes,

Joe Onoufriou & co-authors
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