Friday, 15 July 2016

ObSERVE-Acoustic deployments during WESPAS 2016

Also on-board WESPAS 2016 are some of the ObSERVE-Acoustic team from GMIT and Irish Whale and Dolphin Group. Project website 

In this blog post, Dr Joanne O'Brien (GMIT/IWDG) tells us more about the project...

ObSERVE-Acoustic is a project funded by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht aimed at providing robust data to inform conservation and management by assessing the importance of shelf edge habitats for whales and dolphins. 

The ObSERVE-Acoustic team’s aim on this survey was to retrieve acoustic monitoring equipment deployed offshore since March of this year and redeploy more devices in their place which will be retrieved in November. The acoustic devices are deployed on acoustic release systems at a depth of approximately 1800m. When the ship arrives at the location of the mooring, the team send a unique signal to the acoustic release system located on the bottom of the mooring, once this release system detects this unique signal it will then detach itself from the mooring weight and the array will slowly come to the surface with the aid of a number of buoys for buoyancy. Once on the surface, the array can be easily seen due to the number of orange and yellow buoys but also a light to enable recovery at night.

Static Acoustic Monitoring (SAM) sites for 2015 and 2016 (c) ObSERVE-Acoustic

An acoustic array reaches the surface after release (c) Joanne O'Brien

Autonomous Multi-Channel Acoustic Recorders (AMARs) supplied by JASCO Applied Sciences in Canada are deployed on each mooring as well as Deep C-PODs from Chelonic LTD in the UK. These devices will give us information on the species of whales and dolphins present at these locations and over what timeframe they are using these areas. This is achieved by analysing the recordings made by the devices which detect the vocalisations of whales and dolphins. 

Autonomous Multi-Channel Acoustic Recorder (AMAR) (c) Joanne O'Brien

CPOD ready for deployment (c) Joanne O'Brien

So there was some anxious waiting at these sites while communicating with the release units, waiting for the mooring to come to the surface and getting the kit safely on-board, but thanks to the experienced crew of the RV Celtic Explorer, this was a manageable feat. 

The crew of RV Celtic Explorer getting an AMAR ready for deployment (c) Joanne O'Brien and Mick Marrinan

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