SEATTLE, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- A U.S. study will take a look at how renewable energy devices placed in America's rivers and coastal waters might affect marine life, researchers say.
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will test whether a variety of fish and invertebrates change their behavior after exposure to an electromagnetic field similar to those produced by marine and hydrokinetic power devices that capture energy from ocean waves, tides, currents and rivers, a laboratory release said.
"The ocean's natural ebb and flow can be an abundant, constant energy source," Andrea Copping, an oceanographer at the laboratory, said. "But before we can place power devices in the water, we need to know how they might impact the marine environment."
The laboratory will use large electromagnetic coils to examine how fields may affect wildlife.
Several different technologies can use wave or river current movement to generate electricity that travels through cables that connect the device with a land power line.
Researchers want to know what effect the devices and their cables might have on marine life.
"We really don't know if the animals will be affected or not," Jeff Ward, a marine ecologist at the laboratory, said. "There's surprisingly little comprehensive research to say for sure."