Tidal turbine-striped bass interaction study under test conditions

Principal Investigator:

Dr. Sue Molloy, Dalhousie University

Start Date: May 2016

End Date: March 2017

The purpose of this research is to undertake a study at the Dalhousie Aquatron test tank to monitor the behaviour of striped bass in the presence of an active turbine.  The research will be undertaken by a team of 12 individuals, drawing on expertise and experience from different parts of Canada as well as Europe over a one year project period.

A large horizontal axis turbine will be deployed in the Dalhousie University Aquatron test tank.  A total of 20 caged striped bass will be released and ‘guided’ toward the turbine with the use of netting.  The netting will serve not only to guide the fish but also to protect them from interacting directly with the turbine.  Fish behaviour will be monitored by direct observation as well as by evaluating video footage taken at the time of the trials. Behavioural monitoring will be conducted ‘within turbine vicinity at no flow’; at ‘2m, 1m, and 0.5 m from the rotating axis with a range of flows’; and ‘far from the turbine with a range of flows’.  Cortisol levels will also be measured to assess if/how striped bass may be stressed by the presence of an operating turbine.

Additional to the fish monitoring trials, the study also provides an opportunity to test the operational performance of the turbine at an ‘ocean water’ test facility in Canada.  The turbine operational data will then be compared to data previously acquired at the Queen’s University, Belfast, N. Ireland test facility.

Overall, the study will allow researchers to determine if fish are being significantly stressed by an operating turbine and to make recommendations for future work regarding fish-turbine interactions in developing environmental monitoring programs for tidal energy.