With the growing expansion of offshore wind farms, Saildrone and RPS have announced the completion of the initial phase of their project to monitor marine mammals in potential wind development areas.
Saildrone, renowned for its autonomous ocean data collection, partnered with RPS, a foremost provider of protected species monitoring services. The project's focus is the establishment of a network to identify and pinpoint marine mammals' locations, which is critical given the rise in offshore wind farms and their potential environmental impacts.
Saildrone deployed two of its uncrewed surface vehicles (USVs), each equipped with proprietary acoustic systems, off the Massachusetts coast. These vehicles, known for their near-silence, were placed in whale-rich regions, successfully recording several marine mammal vocalizations during a two-week period.
The gathered data is now in the hands of RPS's acoustic scientists. Employing RPS’s machine learning tool, Neptune, they will identify the nature of the calls and the species responsible for them.
Stephanie Milne, RPS Team Leader for US Offshore Renewables, stated,
"The worldwide shift to offshore wind energy is crucial for a move from traditional power sources. However, the marine environment must not be compromised. The alliance of Saildrone and RPS promises a smart, adaptable solution for comprehensive marine mammal monitoring."
Brian Hernacki, Saildrone CTO, highlighted the project's significance, "Combining Saildrone’s passive acoustic technology with our USVs' mobility and endurance, we're revolutionizing the way we study and safeguard marine mammals, enabling research, conservation, and commercial ventures."
The endeavor has garnered support from the National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium (NOWRDC). "Projects like these directly address the challenges in the offshore wind sector," remarked NOWRDC's executive director, Lyndie Hice-Dunton. "They promise solutions that balance sustainable economic progress with ecological preservation."
Beyond marine mammal monitoring, Saildrone offers the offshore wind industry vital ocean data for all stages of an offshore wind farm's life. Saildrone's USVs are powered by renewable energy, presenting eco-friendly solutions like ocean mapping, year-round ecosystem supervision, and maritime security.
As offshore wind initiatives multiply, Saildrone's technology is poised to ensure a balanced approach between renewable energy progression and environmental responsibility, possibly setting a precedent for similar offshore enterprises.