Offshore wind turbine installation could damage the hearing of UK harbour seals, University of St. Andrews researchers said.
The team of scientists used GPS data loggers on 24 harbour seals during the installation of offshore wind turbines in the Wash in 2012.
The data loggers collected information on the seals’ locations and their diving behaviour.
The study revealed that half of the tagged seals were exposed to noise levels that exceeded hearing damage thresholds.
Lead author of the study, Dr Gordon Hastie, commented: “Like most marine mammals, harbour seals have very sensitive underwater hearing at a much broader range of frequencies than humans.
“Seals probably use underwater hearing during the mating season and to detect and avoid predators. They may also rely on their hearing for navigation and finding prey.”
Since the construction of offshore wind farms is progressing, the researchers said that any impacts that might affect seals conservation status need to be assessed prior to their construction.