CADEMO’s Commitment to Marine Conservation    

marine conservation cameo

The Pacific Ocean offshore California is habitat to numerous species of marine mammals, several of which are listed as threatened, endangered, or data deficient under the Endangered Species Act, and all are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. As the developer of a proposed floating offshore wind energy project off Point Arguello in Central California, CADEMO is aware of the data gaps and potential interactions of marine mammals with our project. Previous monitoring efforts in the CADEMO region have been sparse and broad in scale.

Therefore, to provide site-specific data to characterize the marine environment in the CADEMO project area, we will be working with Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego to conduct passive acoustic monitoring (PAM). The information generated by PAM will be included in the baseline technical studies conducted by ICF for CADEMO. These studies will inform the joint Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement undertaken by the California State Lands Commission and the U.S. Department of the Air Force.

Scripps Oceanography deployed a PAM device in federal waters near the CADEMO site in November. Deployment of this instrument (known as a High-frequency Acoustic Recording Package or ‘HARP’) was facilitated as well by NOAA’s Sanctuary Sound Monitoring Project. The HARP deployed by CADEMO is located within the proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary currently under consideration by NOAA, a designation supported by CADEMO. In keeping with CADEMO’s intention to generate scientific information related to offshore wind development, the raw data and soundscape products will be made publicly available through NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

PAM has emerged as a key technology for marine monitoring, particularly as it relates to fine temporal scale understanding of species presence trends across the full range of seasons. PAM is also capable of evaluating the broader acoustic environment, identifying ways to mitigate risks, and assessing potential shifts in behavior and distribution of marine species that may arise from disturbances, including offshore wind energy development. One advantage of PAM in comparison to visual surveys is its reliability during adverse weather conditions during all times of day and its capability to detect underwater noise from anthropogenic sources.

Scripps Oceanography is renowned for its development of both scientific instruments and techniques for using PAM to study marine mammals. The Scripps-developed HARPs have been used for autonomous monitoring and research of marine mammal populations on U.S. Navy ranges for over 20 years, including in the Southern California Bight. HARPs are self-contained, battery-powered instruments unmatched in their ability to autonomously record and archive high-quality, continuous, calibrated, broadband passive acoustic data for over one year between service intervals. HARPs have been used by Scripps Oceanography to collect data for over 40 Navy contracts, as well as by partners at NOAA, BOEM, and others.

Acoustic recordings have been and are currently being collected by Scripps Oceanography within the Point Arguello/Point Conception area and the broader Southern California Bight under sponsorship from NOAA, the U.S. Navy, and the National Science Foundation. No other institution has conducted acoustic data collection or analysis in this region with the same time duration (> 10 years), bandwidth, and occupation of multiple sites for spatial comparison. Data analysis from these existing Scripps Oceanography PAM sites will serve as important comparison locations for understanding the CADEMO project area.