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Sonar Monitoring in a Gale Force Industry!

Updated: Mar 6, 2021

Offshore wind sector holds big potential for scientific echosounder applications

The global shift to renewable energy is well underway, including large-scale deployment of offshore wind farms. There are more than 3,500 turbines operating along European coasts, and a boom in the development of offshore wind energy appears imminent in areas such as Japan and the United States.

Many of the environmental effects of offshore wind are still unclear, due largely to the speed with which the industry has grown and the complexity of ocean ecosystems. An effective monitoring strategy can provide very useful information including answers to questions such as:

· How do offshore wind farms affect ocean ecosystems?

· What are the long-term consequences of wind turbines on marine life?

· Do wind turbine platforms act as fish aggregation devices?

BioSonics Portable Scientific Echosounders

Scientific echosounders (sonar) are an effective and versatile instrument for monitoring at renewable energy projects. BioSonics, Inc. (USA) manufactures specialized sonar systems for the assessment of fisheries and aquatic habitat resources. The DT-X Extreme echosounder are used to accurately measure the size, abundance, and location of fish an other marine organisms in the water column. These rugged, portable sonar systems are readily deployed from small research vessels or larger ships and used during mobile surveys under the harshest ocean conditions.

Hydroacoustic Baseline Studies

Baseline studies are a common and practical use for scientific echosounders, important in documenting the biological community prior to anthropogenic development such as renewable energy projects. BioSonics recently delivered a new DT-X Extreme system to researchers in Sweden, who will use their new sonar system for monitoring fish at the location of a proposed offshore wind farm. Initial surveys will be conducted to collect baseline information on the existing fisheries stocks. Pre-installation surveys will catalog the existing abundance and distribution of fish. Physical sampling with nets will provide species composition information which will be corelated with the hydroacoustic data. These results will be compared with data collected post-installation to evaluate the impact of the wind farm on the local fish populations.

Fixed Location Monitoring at Wind Turbine Platforms

On existing wind turbine platforms, sonar systems mounted in a fixed-location provide data useful in understanding the effects of platform structures on marine life behavior. Sonar data is used to demonstrate fish aggregation effects and to observe diel and seasonal behavioral patterns in marine life. Transducers can be aimed vertically, horizontally, or in combination to maximize sampling where marine life are most likely present. The DT-X Extreme may be configured with multiple transducers and can operate autonomously with data logging capacity for up to 30 days with no PC required, thus providing an efficient and effective tool for long term acoustic studies.

Mobile Surveys for Habitat Assessment

BioSonics echosounders are also used around offshore wind farms to map and quantify important seagrass habitat areas and to delineate various substrate types such as coral, silt sediment, or rocky reefs. Analyzed data provides insight that helps mitigate potential loss of marine habitat and identify and preserve vital, irreplaceable habitat areas. BioSonics offers specialized software for processing sonar data and creating full-color bathymetric maps that highlight important habitat features. Visual Aquatic software is available as a free download and compatible with data from any BioSonics echosounder.

BioSonics Echosounders - Versatile, Accurate, and Rugged

Offshore wind farms are likely here to stay and the need for affordable, effective monitoring tools can only increase as more projects are given the “green light”. BioSonics scientific echosounders can be used in range of applications for monitoring at proposed and existing wind farm installations. Every system is calibrated for scientifically defensible results and built to last in the extreme conditions. Whether monitoring fish or marine life, quantifying seagrass, bathymetric mapping or assessing aquatic habitat…BioSonics has a solution. Contact us today for more information on these and other innovative monitoring solutions.

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