Effects of seismic survey sound on free-ranging Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua)
Marine anthropogenic activities like shipping, offshore energy development, construction and seismic exploration have increased significant in the North Sea in recent years. Many of these activities are accompanied by high intensity low frequency sounds, that travel far under water and can potentially have a wide spread impact. These sounds are within the hearing range of most marine fish which can, like Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), hear best between frequencies of 20-500 Hz. Therefore, the rise in noise producing anthropogenic activities has led to a growing concern about their effects on the marine fish. As part of the PCAD4Cod project, which investigates the effects of a seismic survey sound on the behaviour and physiology of cod, we will perform acoustic telemetry experiments in one of the Belgian offshore wind farms, Belwind. Cod is chosen as a model species because of its ecological and economical importance for the North Sea. The telemetry experiments involve tagging cod with an acoustic tag whose signal can be picked up by installed receivers. This techniques offers the possibility to track the animals movements in response to disturbances within an area remotely. A full seismic survey is scheduled to take place close to a Dutch wind farm in 2018 during which Belwind will serve as the non-exposed reference location. Results will contribute to inform and advice oil and gas industries on the effects of seismic exploration on cod.