Our eight-month environmental mitigation services programme with Triton Knoll came to an end last week once the final pile was installed. It was an honour to work with RWE Renewables who put the safety of personnel and the environment first and foremost. Biggest thanks to our incredible team of MMO and PAM Operators who showed so much flexibility and commitment through these COVID times. Read more here.
An AutoNaut USV with a Seiche array has played a vital role in enabling The Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) to seize upon the quiet of lockdown to map the underwater soundscape of the Belgian section of the North Sea.
Using its near silent AutoNaut USV research vessel, Adhemar, VLIZ has been able to record current noise levels, which will be compared with the marine soundscape once normal sea traffic and marine activities recommence. This will help to determine the impact of manmade noise on natural sea life and the marine environment, building a picture of the marine soundscape in conditions that may never again be possible.
Following a 15% fall in shipping intensity in the North Sea since the start of the pandemic, VLIZ put its AutoNaut USV robot Adhemar into action to carry out measurements of the underwater noise in the turbid and shallow coastal waters of Ostend-Bredene. Some footage of Adhemar in operation can be seen here.
Using Seiche’s MicroPAM monitoring and mitigation system, developed specifically for autonomous surface vehicles (USVs), underwater sound was captured using two hydrophones trailed on an 8 m in-water cable with depth sensor. The onboard Seiche electronics module acquired and recorded all data.
Undertaken with the support of the agency for Maritime and Coastal Services (MDK) and FPS Mobility and Transport, the project took advantage of the unique current circumstances that allow a record of reduced human activities to be compared with a more normalised soundscape in post Covid-19 conditions.
Under normal circumstances, human interventions such as noise emanating from shipping, pile driving, and other activities can affect the soundscape of the coastal waters and North Sea, impacting on marine animals. Masking natural ambient noise, this extra underwater sound can disturb sea animal behaviour or even result in hearing damage. This is because sound is carried more than four times further in water than in the air, which is precisely why many marine animals use sound to communicate, determine their position and search for prey.
Supported by AutoNaut’s wave foil propulsion technology, which produces virtually no underwater noise, VLIZ utilised its USV Adhemar as a non-invasive, flexible method of capturing sound data, deploying Seiche Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) technology to build a sound-map of the waters for future comparison.
VLIZ will analyse the sound recordings to identify underwater sounds originating from marine animals and the environment, including sounds from fish, invertebrates and other species that are typically masked by anthropogenic activities. This will allow VLIZ to investigate whether a different underwater soundscape can be observed as a result of reduced shipping traffic.
VLIZ executed the mission in close collaboration with the Flemish agency for Maritime and Coastal Services (MDK) and the Federal Public Service for Mobility and Transport, which have responsibility for the safety and regulation of shipping, and in close coordination with the Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Ostend, which stipulates conditions and provides permits for USV activity. Several missions took place in April and May 2020, conducted during daylight hours and only in conditions of good visibility in order that the missions were planned, undertaken and executed without impact on shipping traffic.
The results from the study, which are currently being processed, will be announced later this year in the autumn, followed by a further programme of additional measurements – part of the LifeWatch observation programme – which are planned for the future.
Phil Johnston, Business Development Manager at AutoNaut, comments: “We are thrilled to see VLIZ running Adhemar, not just for the data collection in these strange times but also for the adaptations they’ve made to operate the 5 m USV in the southern North Sea. We look forward to working with VLIZ on future development and missions.”
To listen to our CEO, Mark Burnett, being interviewed by the Society for Underwater Technology’s Steve Hall, focusing on the role of autonomous systems in support of offshore industry click here.
Monitoring and managing the safety of marine mammals is being given a top priority at the 857MW Triton Knoll Offshore Wind Farm, as the 90 turbine project constructs state-of-the-art infrastructure 20 miles off the Lincolnshire coast.
While Triton Knoll has already been assessed as having low potential for marine mammal presence, East Anglia based Seiche Environmental has been appointed to implement important mitigation measures at the offshore site.
Specialising in underwater acoustic measurement, monitoring, and mitigation measures, the team from Seiche has been brought on board to ensure that the impact of underwater noise from construction activities – linked to the installation of 90 monopile foundations for the world’s most powerful wind turbines, and two high-tech offshore substation platforms – has minimal impact on any local cetaceans and seals.
Seiche’s marine mammal mitigation team – based on-board the 183 metre long installation vessel Seaway Strashnov – uses specialist Passive Acoustic Measurement (PAM) equipment to identify if any marine mammals are present under water. Under the direction of their team, an Acoustic Deterrent Device (Lofitech’s Seal Scarer) is used to help keep any marine mammals that may be present, beyond the 500 metre radius protection zone – established before live piling operations.
Combined with visual monitoring during daylight hours, Seiche’s team of observers and PAM operators ensure that the Marine Mammal Mitigation Protocol, which follows the government’s Joint Nature Conservation Committee’s guidance protocol, is adhered to at all times
In addition to the marine mammal mitigation services, Seiche is also recording and reporting on noise output during the installation of the initial piles, so that predictions – used to assess the potential impact on marine fauna – can be validated.
Commenting on the project, Nicola Harris – Associate Director, Environmental Services for Seiche, said: “Understanding and minimising the impact of offshore construction on marine mammals is a vital part of modern offshore wind farm development. Pile driving activities are governed by strict marine mitigation procedures, and we are proud to be providing the crucial expertise to ensure that the noise from these works is managed in a way that is not damaging to the like of grey seal, harbour porpoise and harbour seal, as well as other species less common in the North Sea, including white-beaked dolphin and minke whale.
“Utilising noise monitoring methodology developed by Seiche’s BioSciences and Acoustic Technical specialists, we have implemented mitigation measures that are in accordance with best practice underwater noise guidance and standards whilst better understanding the effect of offshore developments on the marine environment.”
The project covers the Triton Knoll turbine array, which is spread over 145 square kilometres, an area bigger than the City of Manchester. Jointly owned by innogy, J-Power and Kansai Electric Power, innogy is responsible for managing the wind farm’s construction, long-term operation and maintenance works, on behalf of its project partners. Once fully operational, Triton Knoll will be the most powerful in the innogy fleet and capable of powering the equivalent of over 800,000 UK homes.
You can read our new article: Unmanned Vehicles: Wave Power, in UT3 Magazine.
To read our latest article in Eco Magazine: Case Study: Sounding Out Offshore Drilling, Click here.
Read our new Case Study: Marine Mammal Monitoring, in this edition of Eco Magazine.
We are excited to launch our new acoustic monitoring technology for Maritime Signature and Environmental Sectors at Oi2020.
Developed in partnership with UK-based multinational defence technology company QinetiQ, Hydraq QQ1000 is a combination of acoustic and auxiliary sensors suitable for seabed, rising cable, or suspended cable deployment.
Providing enhanced metrology, the instrumented hydrophone has applications spanning underwater noise measurement and environmental use for Port and Harbour Authorities, including compliance with environmental legislation, through to recording of marine mammals, generic noise pollution, and identification of individual vessel sound signatures at sea, which are of value to the maritime and defence sectors.
The new Hydraq QQ1000 sensor meets the challenges of accurately measuring radiated noise and man-made noise pollution in the marine environment. The acoustic measurement bandwidth is compatible with current noise standards, including ISO, DNV and STANAG.
Combining auxiliary sensors with the primary acoustic sensor, Hydraq QQ1000 provides a unique solution which ensures that sensor orientation and vibration can be addressed, safeguarding accurate measurement. Hydraq QQ1000 also incorporates a very low-noise switched gain hydrophone amplifier – preventing noise quality degradation – with self noise levels below Knudsen Sea State 0, and utilises wideband PZT sensors to enhance acoustic signals.
Uncertainty in sensor orientation has been addressed by incorporating a magnetic compass, which augments the three-axis accelerometer giving attitude and bearing. This overcomes issues experienced by traditional hydrophones, principally affecting high frequency measurements occurring in rising-cable deployments – such as measurement errors associated with a hydrophone’s variable polar response – that are influenced by tidal flow, or caused by hydrophone misalignment during seabed deployment.
Employing a sensitive three-axis accelerometer, Hydraq QQ1000 measures hydrophone vibration caused by proximity to propulsion systems or Scholte waves at the water/seabed interface. These are low-frequency effects that contaminate acoustic measurement and need to be measured and accounted for.
Hydraq QQ1000 also acts as a sensor for hydrodynamic pressure variation. It incorporates an accurate high-resolution pressure sensor to provide hydrostatic and hydrodynamic pressure, giving direct measurement of water depth at the hydrophone. Capable of resolving pressure variations of 1mm equivalent water depth when fitted with the 3 bar FSD pressure sensor (30m max measurement depth), the sensor has sufficient resolution for hydrostatic pressure variation in proximity to underway ships. In many cases, a direct measurement of hydrophone depth enhances 3D position fixing, as acoustic determination of depth depends on reflections from a variable or ‘unreliable’ surface.
Mark Burnett, CEO at Seiche Water Technology Group, commented: “With ports such as the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority leading the way in underwater noise mitigation management plans, we see an increasing appetite for technology that can monitor multiple aspects of underwater noise enabling mitigation measures to be put in to place that reduce impact on marine mammals. Added to applications that are of value to monitoring acoustic signatures of vessels, we believe that Hydraq QQ1000 will generate a lot of interest at Oi2020.”
James Nicholson, Chief Scientist of Underwater Threat Representation and Signature Services at QinetiQ, added: “The development of this device is based on many years’ experience of radiated noise measurement in both deep and shallow water environments”.
Seiche will be available on stand P501 at Oi2020 (17-19 March, London EXCEL).
UK headquartered Seiche Environmental, one of the world’s leaders in underwater acoustic measurement, monitoring, mitigations, environmental compliance and governmental regulatory assistance, has announced three key appointments within the business.
Amanda Hyam, formerly Marine Wildlife Advisory and Ancillary Services Manager at GeoGuide Consultants Ltd, joins the business as Associate Director to enhance the team’s world-renowned expertise operating in the oil and gas, marine construction and engineering, offshore renewables, and marine science sectors.
Having worked for clients including Spectrum, seismic contractors such as Polarcus, SeaBird, CGG, and large oil companies including Shell, Kosmos, Statoil and ENI, Amanda brings vital expertise covering all aspects of Environmental Impact Assessment and planning.
Amanda’s past experience and studies enhances Seiche Environmental’s skills in providing clients with assistance and advice during all project phases, from pre-survey/construction through decommissioning stage, on matters including seismic surveying, rig operations, environmental science, and environmental monitoring. Amanda brings particular expertise in helping clients address mitigation requirements and procedures, managing stakeholder and NGO engagement, as well as liaison with government bodies around the globe responsible for offshore development.
Amanda joins Nicky Harris, who is being promoted to Associate Director within the business where she has played a key role in expanding Seiche Environmental’s services. Together with Michelle Roffe, recently promoted to Business Development Executive for Africa, Seiche Environmental is well positioned to deliver projects on a global basis.
Commenting on the three key appointments Mark Burnett, CEO of Seiche Water Technology Group, said: “Our highly experienced team brings together years of international practice, providing clients with the very latest advice on underwater acoustic measurement, monitoring and mitigations requirements as well as environmental compliance and governmental regulatory assistance. The addition of Amanda to the team and promotions for both Nicky and Michelle further enhance our international capability in managing offshore projects globally.
“Supported by our expert team of in-house PAM Operatives and Technicians, who are highly skilled at operating our diverse range of acoustic systems in all circumstances, we are perfectly positioned to deliver projects requiring everything from environmental baseline surveys, or marine mammal observation, risk and impact assessments, through to acoustic modelling and sound source verification services, as well as full full turnkey solutions and project management.”
UK headquartered Seiche Water Technology Group, one of the world’s leaders in the provision of monitoring and measurement solutions for the marine and utilities industries, has announced that COO Mark Burnett has been promoted to Chief Executive Officer. The announcement follows business owner Roy Wyatt’s move to Chairman of the Group, which has an £8 million turnover.
Spearheading the Group’s growth and expansion into new marine technology and environmental service solutions markets, Mark will be responsible for the strategic direction of the business, which provides Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM), marine environment and visual monitoring technology solutions to the oil and gas, renewables, marine construction, marine science, utilities, power and defence sectors.
Core to the future growth of the business, which has a presence in Houston USA and facilities in Cape Town South Africa, will be the expansion of Seiche’s range of full turnkey solutions. These encompass the delivery of field recording equipment, provision of in-field technicians, remote monitoring and operation of equipment, the development and delivery of specialised software, data analysis services and reporting, as well as project management.
Among Seiche Water Technology Group’s rapidly growing portfolio of solutions is its range of AutoNaut wave propelled Unmanned Surface Vessels (USVs). These integrate with Seiche’s range of Passive Acoustic Monitoring devices and environmental measurement solutions, as well as third party technology. Acting as long endurance data collection hubs with built-in sensors to collect, communicate and relay data to clients worldwide, AutoNaut is seen by the business as one of its most exciting and diverse revenue streams.
AutoNaut expands Seiche’s suite of marine technology and environmental service solutions, which include digital and analogue hydrophones/arrays, connected and telemetry modular buoy systems, as well as thermal-imaging cameras. Used by operators of offshore assets such as seismic contractors, windfarm operators and defence organisations, Seiche’s products are hired or sold as stand-alone solutions, but can also form part of Seiche’s end-to-end turnkey solution service.
Commenting on his promotion to CEO, Mark said: “The development of innovative technology solutions to promote and protect the environment lies at the heart of everything that we do here at Seiche Water Technology Group. We have an incredible team who are constantly striving to deliver ground-breaking solutions for the next set of challenges ahead, enabling us to deliver cutting-edge technology to clients the world over. Combined with our turn-key offering, we enable businesses to undertake marine monitoring swiftly, cost-effectively and accurately.”
Mark added: “It is my privilege to take up the role of CEO and to continue to grow a resilient and meaningful business for our staff and our clients, while delivering value to our shareholders.”
Mark joined Seiche as UK Regional Director in November 2016, before being promoted to COO in March 2018. Previous to joining Seiche, Mark was Chief Executive Officer of WGP Group.
Mark commenced his career working offshore with Western Geophysical (now WesternGeco, a Schlumberger company) before taking up shore-based roles within GeoMarine and then Westland GeoProjects Ltd (WGP). The initial focus at WGP was the acquisition of niche and frontier marine geophysical surveys and establishing regional offices in Houston and Sakhalin, Russia whilst in the latter years he focused on the Permanent Reservoir Monitoring sector with BP, Equinor, ConocoPhillips and Shell as key champions.