Real-Time Monitoring of the Endangered Northern Right Whale
In 2006, Excelerate Energy requested a permit in order for its Deepwater port, Northeast Gateway, to be connected to the New England gas grid through a subsea interconnect. The permit was required because ships entering the port delivering LNG introduced a higher risk of vessels striking mammals, in particular the endangered Northern Right Whale.
In the face of energetic weather and sea conditions in Massachusetts Bay, more than one million tons of cargo pass through terminals in the Port of Boston. During certain periods of the year, the Northern Right Whale concentrates in Cape Cod Bay and the Great South Channel east of Nantucket Island. These areas are important feeding grounds for the Northern Right Whale, which has both federal and state status levels of endangered.
A robust, long-term, real-time marine mammal monitoring system that prevents irrecoverable loss, while simultaneously allowing ships carrying LNG and other cargo ships to enter port safely.
EOM OFFSHORE'S SOLUTION:
Using EOM Offshore’s patented mooring technology, an array of 10 passive acoustic moorings were custom built to listen uninterruptedly for the endangered Northern Right Whale. The up-calls detected from the Northern Right Whale are sent near real-time via satellite for analysis at Cornell’s Laboratory of Ornithology as part of the Bioacoustics Research Program. In this application, the electromechanical chain, stretch hose, and anchor recovery system are key components to the mooring. EOM Offshore’s stretch hose technology has operated in extremely rough sea states, without a disruption in data transmission and power supply. The “stretchability” of the stretch hose also improves data quality, because it decouples the wave energy from the hydrophone that sits below the subsurface sphere. In addition, the EM Chain sits below the subsurface sphere supporting the hydrophone and improving data quality. Massachusetts has strict permitting laws that require permittees to retrieve all equipment from the ocean. EOM Offshore’s anchor recovery system allows Excelerate Energy to meet this requirement.
Multiple benefits have been linked to EOM Offshore’s passive acoustic mooring solution. The solution has allowed Excelerate Energy to continue operations, while also leading to secondary environmental benefits such as a reduction in harmful air emissions and the amount of seawater to reduce the intake of larvae. The real-time data have improved whale conservation efforts and have provided scientists with a powerful decade long database that assists in operational decisions, while providing a solid basis for retrospective analyses.