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Looking for marine mammals

Looking for marine mammals

Author: Suzanne Carbotte, Amanda Dubuque and the PSO team
|July 6, 2021

An important part of our operations Collect our seismic data It involves monitoring of protected species—including marine mammals, sea turtles, and several seabirds—so that we can minimize any potential impact of the investigation. Many plans before the cruise focused on how to achieve this goal.

Protected species observers monitor protected species and photograph whales (red arrow).

Five qualified Protected Species Observers (PSOs) approved by government regulatory agencies are independently signed and deployed to our investigation. During the day, the PSO is usually visually observed from a specially designed observation tower. The tower is equipped with extremely powerful big-eye binoculars that can detect animals several kilometers away, and a SLR camera with a zoom lens to record the observation results. Meanwhile, throughout the night, another PSO used a passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) system in the laboratory to monitor marine mammals. The system is an array of hydrophones connected to a sound card and a complex assembly of processing units designed to detect (with Time positioning) The sounds of different whale and dolphin species.

People at the desk listening to the voice

Passive acoustic monitoring operators who monitor the vocalization of marine mammals.

If a marine mammal is detected, whether visually or using PAM, PSO will use all their tools and experience to determine the distance between the animal and the ship. If they determine that it is within a predefined distance from our sound source array, we will turn off our sound source.

Although we are close to the coastline off northern Washington and Vancouver Island, where there may be marine mammals of particular concern, we have another ship-R/V Rachel Carson -Sailing 5 kilometers ahead of us, there are three other PSOs on board, two of which are on duty each time to remind us in advance of any marine mammals they have observed. These extra eyes before our operations help us detect and implement the necessary precautions for these animals.

During the entire cruise, the PSO team recorded the investigation operations, their monitoring work, including the environmental conditions they were on duty, and all the details they witnessed, including species, detection clues, observed behaviors, number of animals, etc. . more. After the cruise is completed, the PSO team submits a comprehensive final report to the regulatory agency authorizing the project.In this way, the information we collect on board Lances It helps to understand the protected species more widely, such as discovering the location, population size, and migration routes of these animals at different times of the year, so as to further understand the offshore organisms in these areas.

This voyage provided insight and opportunities, not only to collect important seismic data, but also to allow the PSO, the scientific team and the crew on board to witness some extraordinary wildlife. The following are photos of some animals observed so far during the expedition, during our preparation of equipment and during the ongoing investigation.

Western seagull, cattail petrel, black-footed albatross, white-winged seagull, northern seagull, royal tern.

Photo credit: Amanda Dubuque, Cassandra Frey, Edgar Brunett, Leonardo De La Rosa, Felipe Rodriguez

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