We are proud to announce the release of our report entitled “Low visibility real-time monitoring techniques review”. This was a collaborate project with SMRU, Marine Ecological Research Ltd, CREEM, Ocean Environmental Consulting, Alfred-Wegener-Institut and Prove Systems Ltd. 

The report reviews and evaluates monitoring methods that could now, or in the near future, be used during periods of low visibility in which the effectiveness of a Marine Mammal Observer (MMO) is reduced. The report identified the following technologies as offering the greatest potential monitoring tools for the detection of animals during low visibility conditions: Active Acoustic Monitoring, Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM), RADAR and thermal Infrared. LIDAR and other spectral camera systems were also investigated but they were considered either not ready for real-time monitoring in the near future or they offered no advantages over traditional visual MMOs.

Through a combination of literature searches, targeted workshops and supplier questionnaires we produced a critical assessment and comparative review of the strengths and weaknesses of the low visibility monitoring methods and their systems. The report identifies knowledge gaps and makes recommendations to assess and improve the effectiveness of monitoring in low visibility conditions, as well as highlighting the next steps in the development of promising systems.

The report concludes that, as anticipated, no single monitoring technology/method is likely to be able to detect all animals in all conditions and environments. The best combined performance is likely to be provided by a combination of methods which are complimentary and compensate for each other’s shortcomings. This rational has historically been the reasoning for interest and development of PAM systems alongside visual monitoring methods. The combination of an underwater monitoring method with an above water monitoring method, for example, will increase the likelihood of detecting an animal underwater as well as at and above the surface. For example, PAM or AAM can detect diving animals and will complement methods that detect animals at the surface such as thermal IR, RADAR or MMOs.

“A thorough and comprehensive report! It gives not only good guidance on the use of marine mammal detection technology under low visibility conditions as relevant to the oil industry. It also provides valuable information for all who consider using modern technology for monitoring of marine mammals in any field of biological research or monitoring.”

Jürgen Weissenberger, Statoil

Find the full report in the Sound and Marine Life database here.

Verfuss, U., Gillespie, D., Gordon, J., Marques, T., Miller, B., Plunkett, R., Theriault, J., Tollit, D., Zitterbart, D., Hurbert, P and Thomas, L. (2016). Low- Visibility Real-Time Monitoring Techniques Review. Report Number SMRUM-OGP2015-002. Provided to IOGP, June 2016.

This work was funded by the Joint Industry Programme on E&P Sound and Marine Life.