Future large-scale implementation of wave energy converts (WECs) will introduce an anthropogenic activity in the ocean which may contribute to underwater noise. The Ocean houses several marine species with acoustic sensibility; consequently the potential impact of the underwater noise needs to be addressed. At present, there are no acoustic impact studies based on acquired data. The WEAM project (Wave Energy Acoustic Monitoring) aims at developing an underwater noise monitoring plan for WECs.
The development of an acoustic monitoring plan must consider the sound propagation in the ocean, identify noise sources, understand the operational characteristics and select adequate instrumentation.
Any monitoring strategy must involve in-situ measurements. However, the vast distances which sound travels within the ocean, can make in-situmeasurements covering the entire area of interest, impracticable. This difficulty can be partially overcome through acoustic numerical modelling.
This paper presents a synthetic study, on the application of acoustic forward modelling and the evaluation of the impact of noise produced by wave energy devices on marine mammals using criteria based on audiograms of dolphins, or other species. The idea is to illustrate the application of that methodology, and to show to what extent it allows for estimating distances of impacts due to acoustic noise.