Environmental Research Letters (2012)

DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/7/4/045101


Offshore wind farms constitute a new and fast growing industry all over the world. This study investigates the long term impact on harbour porpoises, Phocoena phocoena, for more than 10 years (2001–12) from the first large scale offshore wind farm in the world, Nysted Offshore Wind Farm, in the Danish western Baltic Sea (72 × 2.3 MW turbines). The wind farm was brought into full operation in December 2003. At six stations, acoustic porpoise detectors (T-PODs) were placed inside the wind farm area and at a reference area 10 km to the east, to monitor porpoise echolocation activity as a proxy of porpoise presence. A modified statistical BACI design was applied to detect changes in porpoise presence before, during and after construction of the wind farm. The results show that the echolocation activity has significantly declined inside Nysted Offshore Wind Farm since the baseline in 2001–2 and has not fully recovered yet. The echolocation activity inside the wind farm has been gradually increasing (from 11% to 29% of the baseline level) since the construction of the wind farm, possibly due to habituation of the porpoises to the wind farm or enrichment of the environment due to reduced fishing and to artificial reef effects.