Florida-headquartered APEM Inc is already working with Normandeau on the world’s largest and most detailed offshore wildlife surveys of this kind, for the New York Energy Research and Development Authority.

The newly contracted surveys off the Carolinas will gather very high quality data on birds, whales, dolphins, sharks, fish, turtles and other marine species in an area of almost 10,000 square nautical miles, giving scientists an unparalleled understanding of the area’s wildlife.

Recently developed technologies make the aerial digital surveys possible, with state-of-the-art camera systems mounted on twin-engine survey aircraft capturing thousands of images with each flight.

One of APEM’s newly developed camera systems, Shearwater III, will be used for the surveys. It was developed to push the resolution of images to as low as 0.5 cm per pixel.

Back on the ground the images are analysed by experts at Normandeau and APEM Inc. to identify the wildlife species captured in them. Using this information scientists will be able to accurately estimate not only which species are present, but also how many there are of each species and where they are most likely to be found.

The images are so detailed that analysts can even work out how high birds are flying and whether they are adults or juveniles.

The survey area off the Carolinas has been identified as one where offshore wind farms may potentially be built in future and the surveys will provide baseline data to help with the process of siting and permitting future developments.

Dr Stuart Clough, president of APEM Inc., said: “We’re looking forward to starting work on these exciting surveys. We expect to capture around a million ultra-high resolution images in total and usually when we carry out a survey like this the data gathered is pretty much unprecedented.

“We never know what the surveys will reveal, but we’re always excited to find out. It’s important that agencies and developers have very high quality baseline data so that they can make the best decisions possible about future offshore wind farms.”

Normandeau is a leading U.S. environmental and regulatory consultancy with special expertise in developing innovative technology solutions for answering biological questions.

APEM is the world’s leading supplier of aerial bird and marine mammal surveys for the offshore renewables industry, having carried out over 1,500 surveys. The two companies have been working closely together for over five years.

To date, BOEM has held one lease sale off the coast of North Carolina, awarding a 122,405 acre lease off Kitty Hawk, NC to Avangrid.

BOEM is continuing to evaluate other potential lease areas off the Carolinas and data from this study will assist with that process.

If you have any queries, please contact Dr Stuart Clough, director.
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