Is tidal energy affecting sea life?

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by GARY CHITTIM / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @gchittimK5

KING5.com

Posted on June 8, 2011 at 5:59 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 8 at 8:35 PM

PORT TOWNSEND, Wash. -- Revolutionary efforts to harness the power of Puget Sound tides took a big step forward today.

Dr. John Horne is like a nervous father-to-be.
 
"Very exciting yet also somewhat daunting," said Dr. Horne, lab director at the University of Washington's School of Fisheries.
 
His baby is an array of sophisticated scientific equipment on the bottom of Puget Sound.
 
The sophisticated imaging devices have been hard at work studying the possible effects of large scale underwater energy production.  They are looking at how a grid of generators might harm sensitive sea life including endangered salmon and orcas.
   
"How it might change migration patterns. How the vertical distributions might change. If the devices might actually attract fish," Dr. Horne says are all things they are specifically looking into.
 
The deep-sea eavesdroppers are pulled up one after the other. They've spent a lonely month studying the habits of sea life from 180-feet down.
 
"When it's down there, collecting data, it's completely self-contained. There's no line to the surface, no signal to the surface. it's entirely contained in just what you see here," said Jim Thomson, Oceanographer with the University of Washington.
 
These devices with geeked up technology like "split beam echo sounding," "acoustic imaging" and such, will give scientists a before shot to see changes happen and, if any, after the generators go in. 
  
The Snohomish PUD is testing the waters for tidal energy.  The first generator may go in as soon as 2013. 

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