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Normandeau Associates, APEM Conducting World’s Largest Digital Aerial Survey of Offshore Wildlife
The world’s largest and most detailed digital aerial surveys of offshore wildlife have begun off the coast of New York state and have already captured remarkable images of birds, whales, dolphins, sharks, sea turtles, and fish. The surveys will cover an area of 43,000 km2—about twice the size of New Jersey—and will capture almost four million ultra-high resolution images.
The three-year study is being carried out by Normandeau Associates, Inc. and APEM Ltd on behalf of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) as part of the recently launched New York State Offshore Wind Blueprint. NYSERDA is obtaining this regional-scale baseline information on seasonal wildlife distribution, abundance and movement to inform responsible offshore wind site selection and development. The survey will provide a better understanding of the potential effects of individual offshore wind projects, as well as any possible cumulative effects of multiple projects. The project is expected to expedite offshore wind development, decreasing uncertainty and reducing costs for ratepayers while minimizing wildlife impacts and maximizing environmental benefits. The study will provide baseline data as the State pursues ambitious plans to secure 50 per cent of its electricity supply from renewable sources by 2030.
The surveys are also gathering the highest resolution images ever for a project of this scale. Detailed images of a wide range of species have already been captured during the first summer survey. They include sharks circling large shoals of fish, a female dolphin with its calf, dense shoals of rays, sea turtles, and large numbers of individual sharks, including a huge basking shark. Bird species have also been identified, including shearwaters, bald eagle, double-crested cormorant, petrels, gulls, and terns. Analysis of images from the recently completed fall survey has been initiated.
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