Marine Science

“The impacts of climate change on oceans are myriad, complex, and interrelated.”
—Charlotte De Fontaubert, Global Lead for the Blue Economy, World Bank

CoringOceans are the largest heat sink on the planet. They absorb 90% of the excess heat caused by climate change. They are also a very efficient carbon sink, absorbing 23% of human-caused CO2 emissions according to the World Bank.

Many of our marine populations are being devastated by the catastrophic consequences of climate change—from warming oceans to ocean acidification—supporting marine scientific research is essential in protecting the sustainability of our oceans and marine life.

Today scientific institutions, government agencies, local communities, and the offshore wind industry, among others are working together to ensure the health and vitality of our oceans and enact the best practices to transition to a clean energy future.

Science drives offshore wind decision-making

The offshore wind industry is a relatively new use of marine waters in the U.S. and requires an expansion of our scientific knowledge of complex and at-risk marine environments so we can protect and preserve essential marine resources for future generations.

Research is taking place around the world to investigate the potential impacts of offshore wind energy development and how site assessment, construction, and operations could interact with marine life on the seabed, in the water column, and at the surface.

In the United States, NOAA Fisheries and BOEM have developed a passive acoustic monitoring framework. It outlines procedures, system requirements, and other components for implementing passive acoustic monitoring to help offshore wind developers reduce the impact of offshore wind energy projects on marine animals.

GoPursuit crew work

Photo by GO Pursuit crew member Joe Cochran

Protected species observers

PSO’s are deployed on survey and construction vessels to monitor for the presence of protected species, and to implement mitigation measures where needed to ensure the animals are not impacted by marine activities. The PSO works closely with the vessel crew to implement these mitigation measures and keep watch for protected species during vessel transit to avoid potential vessel strikes.

SouthCoast Wind in partnership with the RPS Group are providing local Native American communities with cost-free training and all certifications required to work as a Protected Species Observer (PSO). The program kicked off in Summer 2022 and three graduates have been deployed on SouthCoast Wind’s offshore survey programs.

Monitoring the presence of protected species

Survey vessels: crew photos

Partnerships

After receiving feedback from the fishing community on the need to establish robust fisheries impact assessments, SouthCoast Wind is developing Fisheries Monitoring Plans (FMPs) that are designed to track the relative abundances and catch of fish and invertebrate species commonly targeted by both commercial and recreational fishermen in the project area.

In partnership with the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) and INSPIRE Environmental, marine scientists and commercial fishermen will collaborate to sample the offshore lease area and inshore areas where the export cable is expected to be routed. Sampling will occur before, during, and after construction to assess the longer-term effects of development of the project area.

SouthCoast Wind is utilizing the expertise of the New England Aquarium to study the movements of highly migratory fish species (sharks, tunas, and marlins) in and around the SouthCoast Wind lease area and the greater southern New England Wind Energy Area. Ten acoustic receivers will assess the impacts of offshore wind development on highly migratory species during pre-construction, construction, and operations in the southern New England wind energy area. Other New England offshore wind lease owners are also funding this research, representing a unique collaboration to study species that move at scales larger than any one developer’s lease area.