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Research overview

Passive Acoustics

Passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) is an effective way of detecting many species of cetacean and has an important role in abundance surveys and in detecting cetaceans in the vicinity of certain human activities which may cause harm, such as seismic surveys, military sonar exercises, offshore energy extraction and shipping.

Monitoring the Effects of Offshore Renewables

While offshore renewable energy has the potential to cut carbon emissions, the increased industrialisation of coastal areas may have a detrimental impact on some forms of marine life.

In particular, tidal turbines have the potential to injure or kill marine mammals should they be struck by moving turbine blades. Animals may be also be excluded from areas in which arrays of turbines have been installed.

We are using passive acoustics to study how small cetaceans (harbour porpoise and dolphins) behave in the immediate vicinity of tidal energy devices in order to answer the questions:

  1. Do animals approach operational turbines
  2. Is there any evidence of habitat exclusion
  3. Is there any evidence of fine scale avoidance behaviour in the immediate vicinity of turbine blades

We currently collect data from an operational turbine on the North Coast of Scotland from 12 hydrophones, each sampling at a high data rate of 500kHz. This monitoring program has now been operational for over one year using funds from the Scottish Government Marine Mammal Scientific Research Program.

PAMGuard Software

PAMGuard is open source software for the detection and localisation of marine mammal vocalisations. It is optimised for real time use in the field and has applications both in abundance survey and in mitigation monitoring.  I manage the PAMGuard project and wrote both the core structure of the PAMGuard and many of the detection, localisation and mapping modules within the software.


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water


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