Friday, 14 June 2013

Are we ready for an increase in marine mammal acoustic surveys?

Monitoring of marine mammals is not new, but is in the context of the offshore renewable industry. Are the technology and tools ready for what is likely to be an increase in this type of data?

In Europe, underwater noise is covered under Indicator Number 11 of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD)1. This legislation aims to reduce underwater noise levels by 2020. As a result Germany has set strict guidelines for the maximum levels during offshore wind farm development activities. It is anticipated that other European countries who have not yet set such levels may do so, including the UK.

Given the recent inclusion of an industry context, and in the importance of this issue to policy makers, an increase in surveys and data is to be expected. But do we have well developed easy applications and tools to help a wide audience conduct and analyse such surveys and data?

A similar area which has seen developments is in the survey and identification of bat species. One such project, iBats2, has developed a free application to help identify species behind the calls heard. Although the accuracy of such applications can vary, the iBats project has attempted to capture community feedback. In the marine world, a competition3 run on the Kaggle platform has helped improve Cornell’s whale detection model from 72% to 98%.

Is there work going on which will help provide tools to analyse marine acoustic data? Do they already exist?

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