The Geo People were recently invited, by recommendation, to supply their MMO and PAM expertise to an extensive windfarm installation project in the South China Sea, Taiwan Strait.
The recent COVID-19 quarantine regulatory framework defined much of the logistics surrounding our consultants’ entry to, and exit from, the field of operations. During this project, the often rapid changes in the various government epidemic entry and exit travel policies required our Logistics Team to foresee many possible eventualities, including potential travel delays to and from the field of operations and co-ordinating PCR test certificates to be available within 24 hrs of travelling etc. As part of this awareness, we also enacted plans to provide standby MMO/PAM consultants (all ready with visas) in the event of a new lockdown.
The Geo People also sought to optimise the time spent by consultants in quarantine accommodation by organising a further series of (remote) training sessions in passive acoustic monitoring for MMOs who have already been awarded an MMO certificate accredited by the JNCC and BOEM/BSEE.
In terms of field work, our MMO and PAM observers monitor animal movement, continually recording behaviour and sightings and/or vocal detections. In accordance with local regulations, they are ready to protect specific animals by instructing to suppress the noise source until the animal has left the exclusion zone (this being the specifically defined circular area on the surface, around the noise source according to the guidelines used).
The MMOs position themselves at the highest point on the vessel, to monitor marine life using binoculars and a range stick. Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) is often also undertaken at the same time, usually during the hours of darkness. This involves the animal vocalisations being picked up by underwater hydrophone receivers and the species then being identified by the frequency and pattern of their vocalisations.
The Geo People are extremely proud of the positive and professional attitude of our MMO and PAM operators on this project and also of our in-house logistics team, for successfully navigating the various logistical challenges presented by the current global epidemic.