Wildlife Monitoring and Basline Studies for Offshore Wind Development

Abundant offshore wind resources off the coast of the United States have spurred interest in developing a domestic industry which has the potential to generate a significant portion of the nation’s electricity. In order to ensure the responsible growth of this industry, a number of different agencies and a wide range of researchers are working to assess the potential environmental impacts of offshore wind energy development. In 2011, as part of a larger effort to address challenges facing the offshore wind market, the Department of Energy (DOE) funded a suite of research projects to reduce environmental risk and facilitate permitting. This webinar will focus on presenting initial results of the first year of data collection for two large-scale studies that establish baseline data to aid in the siting and permitting of future projects.

 

Introduction

Jocelyn Brown-Saracino, U.S. Department of Energy

 

The Mid-Atlantic Baseline Studies Project: Understanding Wildlife Densities and Movements on the Mid-Atlantic Continental Shelf

Kate Williams, Biodiversity Research Institute

This project is a three-year multi-organizational collaborative effort to gather baseline information on the distribution, abundance, and movements of wildlife on the mid-Atlantic outer continental shelf. A variety of technologies and quantitative methods, including high-definition aerial and boat-based transect surveys, avian satellite tagging, acoustic monitoring, and hierarchical modeling, are being used to assess densities and movements of birds, sea turtles and marine mammals relative to proposed wind energy development areas. Results of these surveys will provide stakeholders, regulators and developers with information that may be useful in performing environmental analyses on offshore wind projects currently in development, as well as insight for siting future development in locations where wildlife conflicts may be minimized. This talk will provide an overview of the results of the first year of data collection under this project.

 

Ongoing Offshore Atlantic & Great Lakes Acoustic Bat Research

Steve Pelletier, Stantec Consulting Services, Inc.

This project focuses primarily on the collection of seasonal, offshore acoustic bat data in the New England, mid-Atlantic coastal, and Great Lakes regions over a three-year (2012-2014) survey period. This project builds upon a similar, independent pilot effort which detected the presence of numerous bat species in the Gulf of Maine (2009-2011). This project aims to obtain regional and multi-year data on seasonal offshore bat activity and movement patterns that will not only enhance the overall understanding of seasonal offshore bat migration, but to also establish baseline information for evaluating future possible impacts of offshore wind development. This talk will provide an overview of the results of the first year of data collection under this project and include comparisons with previous results as applicable.

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