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Scientists track porpoises to assess impact of offshore wind farms

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A new study by scientists at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, Cornell University and Duke University is the first in a series to understand how marine mammals like porpoises, whales, and dolphins may be affected by the construction of wind farms off the coast of Maryland. The new research offers insight into previously unknown habits of harbor porpoises in the Maryland Wind Energy Area, a 125-square-mile area off the coast of Ocean City that may be the nation’s first commercial-scale offshore wind farm.

A new study by scientists at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, Cornell University and Duke University is the first in a series to understand how marine mammals like porpoises, whales, and dolphins may be affected by the construction of wind farms off the coast of Maryland. The new research offers insight into previously unknown habits of harbor porpoises in the Maryland Wind Energy Area, a 125-square-mile area off the coast of Ocean City that may be the nation’s first commercial-scale offshore wind farm.

Offshore wind farms provide renewable energy, but activities during the construction can affect marine mammals that use sound for communication, finding food, and navigation.

“It is critical to understand where marine mammals spend their time in areas of planning developments, like offshore wind farms, in order to inform regulators and developers on how to most effectively avoid and minimize negative impacts during the construction phase when loud sounds may be emitted,” said Helen Bailey, the project leader at the UMCES’ Chesapeake Biological Laboratory.

Read more at University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

Image: UMCES graduate student Jessica Wingfield is first author on the paper. (Credit: UMCES)