DV-13-03 Developing wildlife monitoring capabilities for weather buoys in the Gulf of Maine

Damian Brady
University of Maine and DeepCWind Consortium

As energy activities move offshore to the winds and waters of the Gulf of Maine, developers and regulators have to assess the effects of offshore technology on wildlife. Recent evidence indicates that the "marine aerosphere," or environment above the sea surface, is frequented by bats, birds, and other animals. However, basic presence-absence information for most species in most locations is lacking, in part because wildlife monitoring can be quite difficult in the marine environment.

In terrestrial systems, passive acoustic monitoring for birds and bats has become an effective means of assessing species composition, identifying the timing of daily and seasonal activities, and in some cases even estimating relative abundance. Pairing this technology with buoys used to monitor marine environmental conditions may provide a new, cost-effective means by which to gather information on wildlife populations throughout the Gulf of Maine.

In April 2013, Brady added acoustic equipment to a weather buoy deployed by the University of Maine off the coast of Castine, as part of the University’s testing of a floating one-eigth-scale wind turbine. Brady worked with the Biodiversity Research Institute to collect and analyze bird and bat acoustic data.
This project provided a unique opportunity to test the efficacy of acoustic equipment in the offshore environment and determine how local weather conditions affect wildlife detection capabilities.

Sea Grant funds: $5,400