Ørsted Commits to North Atlantic Right Whale Research

Ørsted U.S has formed a research partnership to study the North Atlantic right whale and use the learnings for its offshore wind portfolio.

Ørsted U.S. Offshore Wind partnered with Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, the University of Rhode Island (URI), and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) to launch the Ecosystem and Passive Acoustic Monitoring (ECO-PAM) project. 

The goal of the academic partnership is to better understand the habitat as well as the presence, distribution and seasonality of the endangered North Atlantic right whale within Ørsted’s U.S. lease areas.

The company plans to apply the project’s learnings to develop tailored processes and procedures to better protect the right whale during the survey, construction and operation phases of its projects.

Additionally, the partnership is expected to enable coastal communities to utilize the oceanographic data gathered to help with weather forecasting and predicting severe storms.

The three-year project will rely on data collected from two, near real-time sound detection buoys deployed by WHOI and one experimental buoy deployed by URI. 

It will also feature the use of an unmanned glider led by Rutgers to telemeter to shore in near real-time oceanographic data and detections of marine mammal vocalizations. The glider, a first for Ørsted, will provide a persistent presence within and surrounding the lease areas in New Jersey.

The final element will be the inclusion of acoustic receivers on the glider and buoys. Data collected will contribute to furthering the understanding of movement patterns of a range of species, Ørsted said.

Ørsted signed an initial memorandum of understanding with Rutgers University in May 2019 to support academic research activities related to offshore wind. The ECO-PAM project will be in addition to this initial funding agreement.

“This unique project unites business and academia, allowing some of the greatest minds to work together to study and deploy new, advanced technology that will enable us to work toward the goal of helping to protect and conserve the right whale,” said Sophie Hartfield Lewis, Ørsted Head of U.S. Permitting.

“It is imperative that Ørsted take a leadership role in this given our offshore presence along the eastern coastline.”

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