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New Initiative Launched to Help Study Whales in U.S. Waters

Acoustic monitoring using special buoys will track and monitor whales that frequent waters off New York and New Jersey

A humpback whale (Image: Pixabay)A humpback whale (Image: Pixabay)

Offshore wind developer Equinor Wind US, the Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) have launched a joint project to deploy two acoustic buoys designed to expand the detection and monitoring of whale species found in the waters of New York Bight.

The buoys will provide near real-time monitoring of species such as the sei whale, fin whale, humpback whale, and the highly endangered North Atlantic right whale to help marine conservation scientists increase their understanding of whale species that spend time in and migrate through the waters off the coasts of New York and New Jersey. The data will help inform ecologically sound decisions for potential development within Equinor’s offshore wind lease site.

The effort will also provide the general public with a fascinating window into the behaviors of acoustically sensitive marine mammals that live in the coastal areas. The near real-time data (transmitted by satellite to researchers’ computers) will be publicly available on a dedicated web page and eventually put on display in the WCS New York Aquarium.

When deployed, the new acoustic buoys will increase detection rates of the North Atlantic right whale, one of the world’s most endangered whale species, in the New York Bight. This slow-moving, coastal animal is especially vulnerable to ship strikes and fishing gear entanglement, making information on their presence and migratory habitats crucial for effective conservation actions.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with the New York Aquarium and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, two of the leaders in the marine science community,” said Christer af Geijerstam, President, Equinor Wind US. “The offshore wind industry has a logical role to play as a partner to marine biologists and others interested in better understanding and preserving the health of our oceans. This project will also help make Equinor better stewards of this lease site by providing data that informs our operational decision-making well into the future.”

“Renewable energy is vital to the future of our society, and it’s important to see it move forward with minimal impact on the environment,” said Dr. Mark Baumgartner of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. “Our monitoring work with WCS, coupled with state-of-the-art, WHOI-developed whale detection technology, will support these goals by providing Equinor, regulators, scientists and the public with long-term near real-time information on whale presence that can be used to responsibly manage wind development and other industrial activities." 

Wildlife Conservation Society
Windfair Staff
Equinor, offshore, wind, buoy, whale, lease site, animal, migration, water, coast, New York, New Jersey, USA

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