US Wind Applauds Whale Research in Maryland Offshore Lease Area

US Wind announces deployment of an ocean buoy that monitors and provides daily reports of whales detected off Maryland’s Atlantic coast.

Today, US Wind, Inc. (“US Wind“) announced its coordination with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MD DNR), Maryland Energy Administration (MEA), University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES), and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) on the deployment of an ocean buoy that monitors and provides daily reports of whales detected off Maryland’s Atlantic coast.

US Wind acquired an 80,000-acre federal lease area off of the coast of Maryland in 2014. In 2017, the company was awarded Offshore Renewable Energy Credits (ORECs) from the State of Maryland for the first phase of its MarWin project. In total, the company’s lease area can support approximately 1.5 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy capacity. In 2019, Maryland passed the Clean Energy Jobs Act, which increased the state’s offshore wind energy requirements, calling for an additional 1.2 GW to be procured from developers with projects near the state’s coast.

“The deployment of this whale monitoring buoy is a major achievement for science and research,” said Todd Sumner, Director of Permitting for US Wind. “US Wind is proud to have coordinated with Maryland DNR, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, the Maryland Energy Administration, and WHOI on this effort to monitor marine mammal activity in our Lease area. The information obtained from this buoy will ensure greater protection of marine life in our Lease area, including the critically endangered North Atlantic Right whale.”

According to a US Wind press release:

The whale monitoring buoy, located about 23 miles offshore in the Maryland Lease area, will monitor the presence of a wide range of baleen whales who either call the ocean offshore Maryland home or pass during migration along the coast. The buoy system includes an underwater listening device called a hydrophone that will record the marine mammal calls. A detection algorithm will analyze the calls to determine the presence of humpback, fin, sei, and the critically endangered North Atlantic Right whale species.

The data collected will be transmitted to shore, verified by UMCES scientists, and shared daily on the buoy website: robots4whales.whoi.edu. The data from the monitoring buoy will help further advance the ongoing research efforts of Dr. Helen Bailey with the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory at UMCES to understand the distribution of marine mammals off Maryland’s shoreline and characterize the current ambient noise environment.

The deployment is scheduled for at least one year and will support current and near-real-time alerts to help inform on-water changes in vessel traffic and develop recommendations for mitigation efforts to protect marine life during construction and maintenance of Maryland Offshore wind activities.

“Year-long whale detection information from this buoy will contribute to an expanded understanding of species presence off our coasts across all seasons,” said Catherine McCall, Director of the Department of Natural Resources’ Office of Ocean and Coastal Management. “We look forward to continuing work with partners to advance our understanding of wildlife patterns to inform offshore wind development off of Maryland’s coast.”

Read the full press release.

US Wind will be hosting a Solutions Showcase at MACo’s 2021 Summer Conference: “How Will Maryland’s First Offshore Wind Project Impact Your County?” on Friday 12:15 – 12:45pm. Thank you US Wind for sponsoring our MACo’s Summer Conference!

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

 

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