Song of the Whale crew researches Dogger Bank harbour porpoises

A team of scientists are sailing from Suffolk to the North Sea to find out more about harbour porpoises.

The Song of the Whale vessel will travel from Ipswich to the Dogger Bank to research the mammal's population and migration patterns.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) wants to survey the sandbank before work potentially begins on a 2,600-turbine wind farm.

The British, German and Dutch crew will be at sea for 20 days.

It will take approximately 12 hours to sail to the area, which is about 100m (160km) out to sea.

'Underwater disturbance'

A consultation is currently under way into a plan to construct a 3,475 sq mile (9,000 sq km) wind farm at Dogger Bank.

Lead researcher Anna Moscrop said: "We're very supportive of renewable energy, wind farms are fantastic, but the construction needs to be done sensitively so the damage to wildlife is minimised.

"Harbour porpoises get caught in fishing nets accidentally, but they're also impacted by disturbance, so any noise underwater can cause them to move out of the area.

"For example, when wind farms are being built, the actual building of the turbines is quite noisy."

The purpose-built boat has been anchored at the Ipswich waterfront.

Sensitive underwater microphones will pick up signs of marine life and this data will be collected via the onboard computers.

Ms Moscrop said the findings from the survey will be made "widely available".

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