The primary role of a Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) operator is to listen for vocalising marine mammals using specialised Passive Acoustic Monitoring equipment (www.passiveacousticmonitoringsystem.co.uk). Using a PAM operator, along with a Marine Mammal Observer (MMO; www.marinemammalobserver.com), during industrial operations is advantageous because it allows for marine mammal mitigation when visual observations are not appropriate, e.g. during hours of darkness, poor visibility and poor weather conditions. For industrial operations this can assist in reducing operational downtown while still complying with marine mammal mitigation guidelines. Please see www.marinemammalmitigation.co.uk for more details on what is often involved in marine mammal mitigation.
More specifically, during industrial operations Passive Acoustic Monitoring operators are often required to listen for marine mammals for 30 – 90 minutes (depending on regional guidelines) before the commencement of offshore operations (e.g. seismic surveys, piling or dredging). In some regions, monitoring must also continue during operations. Passive Acoustic Monitoring operators also use specialised software which provides a visual display of the signals received by the Passive Acoustic Monitoring system’s hydrophones. Such software is an essential tool for Passive Acoustic Monitoring operators to detect high frequency marine mammal vocalisations that are outside the human hearing range.
Passive Acoustic Monitoring operators are also used to measure underwater noise (www.underwatersoundmeasurement.com). This may be an essential role for a Passive Acoustic Monitoring operator in areas such as Germany, where a specific noise threshold cannot be exceeded during industrial operations such as pile driving or conductor hammering.
PAM OPERATORS FOR RESEARCH
Passive Acoustic Monitoring operators are also used for research purposes regularly. Using a Passive Acoustic Monitoring operator in conjunction with a Marine Mammal Observer (MMO; www.marinemammalobserver.co.uk), not only allows for 24 hour monitoring, but is especially advantageous as they are still considered very much complimentary monitoring techniques, especially since animals don’t produce sound all of the time. Passive Acoustic Monitoring, however, is essential for some species such as beaked whales, for example, which are very challenging to detect visually as they are deep divers, and inconspicuous during the brief moments they are at the surface. These animals often take extended deep dives (equating to more time underwater than at the surface), during which they echolocate to search of food. Passive Acoustic Monitoring operators, therefore, have a better chance at detecting beaked whale echolocation clicks than a Marine Mammal Observer using visual detection alone.
Acoustic data can also be recorded and stored by a Passive Acoustic Monitoring operator, allowing for the possibility of re-inspection of the data to confirm initial assumptions. This can be extremely valuable for species identification.
The use of Passive Acoustic Monitoring devices including towed arrays (www.towedarray.co.uk) and static devices such as T-PODs (www.t-pod.co.uk) or and C-PODs (www.cpodclickdetector.co.uk), have proven to be successful in monitoring habitat use in marine mammals, in particular harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) and bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). Passive Acoustic Monitoring is fast becoming an important tool for Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs), especially during wind farm construction and operation studies, as they are a very cost effective and reliable way of gathering the required amount of data. During Environmental Impact Assessment studies, information on any change in behaviour or habitat use can be identified.
At Ocean Science Consulting Ltd (OSC) we are always interested in getting involved in research, so contact us if you are looking to collaborate with a highly qualified group of Passive Acoustic Monitoring experts.
OCEAN SCIENCE CONSULTING PAM OPERATORS
Ocean Science Consulting has a team of highly trained personnel providing Passive Acoustic Monitoring operators, Marine Mammal Observers (www.marinemammalobserver.co.uk), cetacean monitoring (www.cetaceanmonitoring.co.uk), under water noise measurements (www.underwatersoundmeasurement.com) and marine mammal mitigation (www.marinemammalmitigation.co.uk). We also have top of the range Passive Acoustic Monitoring systems (www.passiveacousticmonitoringsystem.co.uk), which have been made to a standard high above the rest. Our Passive Acoustic Monitoring systems are available for hire on a daily rate along with one of our own Passive Acoustic Monitoring operators, trained in installing systems and trouble-shooting in the field. The diverse and in-depth experience of OSC Passive Acoustic Monitoring operators, along with our 24- hour technical support and 100% redundancy in all our Passive Acoustic Monitoring systems, means technical downtime is brought to a minimum.
A sample list of past and on-going Passive Acoustic Monitoring clients can be provided upon request. For more information about all of our services and research please see our main website, www.osc.co.uk.