Application of a multibeam echosounder to document changes in animal movement and behaviour around a tidal turbine structure

Benjamin J. Williamson, Philippe Blondel, Laura D. Williamson, Beth E. Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (SciVal)
1 Downloads (Pure)


Changes in animal movement and behaviour at fine scales (tens of metres) in immediate proximity to tidal stream turbine structures are largely unknown and have implications for risks of animal collision with turbine blades. This study used upward-facing multibeam echosounder data to detect and track
animal movement comprising fish, diving seabirds and marine mammals. Measurements over springneap tidal cycles at a turbine structure (no blades present) are compared to a neighbouring reference area with no structure and comparable conditions, with measurements consecutive in time to
maximise comparability.
The majority of tracked animals (93.4% around turbine structure and 99.1% without turbine structure) were observed swimming against the flow, with 87.5% and 97.8%, respectively, making ground and showing capability of manoeuvring in tidal stream flow speeds. Track tortuosity increased around the turbine structure compared to the reference site, particularly in the wake and at low flow speeds, indicating animal station-holding or milling behaviour. These data also evidence the benefits of multibeam echosounders to measure animal movement through larger measurement volumes rather than relying on single-beam echosounders to measure animal presence alone, including to avoid large
biases overestimating the size of schools swimming against the flow measured by time-in-beam.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberfsab017
Pages (from-to)1253-1266
Number of pages14
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Issue number4
Early online date28 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2021


  • Environmental monitoring
  • fish behaviour
  • marine renewable energy
  • multibeam echosounder
  • target tracking
  • tidal stream turbines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


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