Study the Science: Acoustic Moorings

The acoustics monitoring program is designed to measure underwater ambient and industrial noise levels and to detect and classify species of vocalizing marine mammals over a wide area of the northeastern Chukchi Sea and in the vicinity of the main study area. Acoustic recorders record sounds using hydrophones (underwater microphones); they are deployed on the seabed throughout the study areas. Some recorders remain only for a season—in the summer—while others record over winter when ice covers the area. The detections of calls from several marine mammal species, including several ice seals, walruses, belugas, bowheads, gray whales, fin whales, minke whales, and killer whales, are used to determine their occurrence and migration patterns.

The Joint Acoustic Monitoring Program was run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Bioacoustics Research Program in summer 2006. Since July 2007, JASCO Applied Sciences has conducted consecutive summer and winter recording sessions with Autonomous Multichannel Acoustic Recorders (AMAR) and Autonomous Underwater Recorders for Acoustic Listening (AURAL). The summer sessions included four lines of recorders starting from Cape Lisburne, Point Lay, Wainwright, and Barrow extending up to 135 nautical miles off the coast. There were 20-25 recorders in total in these lines.

During the winter session, recorders were deployed in mid-October and retrieved in July or August of the following year. The recorders typically operated for 7–10 months, limited mainly by battery life. Between 2007 and 2011, five to nine recorders were deployed throughout the program area. Starting in 2011, the winter program included a deployment of six AURALs on the northern side of Hanna Shoal, bringing the number of winter recorders to 15. This deployment scheme was continued during the winter of 2012–2013, but has been replaced during the 2013–2014 winter by three inshore recorders to docume nearshore passages of bowhead and beluga whales during the spring migration.

Clusters of recorders were also deployed near the current Shell, ConocoPhillips, and Statoil lease blocks and near earlier well sites as shown in the yearly descriptions below.

Investigators

Study Descriptions by Year

Reports


2008-2014

David Hannay, M.S.

JASCO Applied Sciences

Principal Investigator

4464 Markham St Ste 2101

Victoria, BC V8Z7X8

250-483-3300

david.hannay@jasco.com

website

2008

Christopher Clark, Ph.D.

Cornell University

Co-Principal Investigator

159 Sapsucker Woods Rd

Ithaca, NY 14850

607-254-2405

cwc2@cornell.edu

website

2014: JASCO deployed one AMAR near the Klondike well site and six AMARs around the Burger well sites.

2013: JASCO deployed one AMAR near the Klondike well site and in the Statoil lease area, and eleven AMARs around the Burger well sites. A greater focus was placed on the Burger lease area because of follow-up surveys and maintenance activities surrounding a well that was partially drilled by Shell in 2012.

2012: JASCO deployed one AMAR near the Klondike well site and in the Statoil lease area, and seven AMARs around the Burger well sites.

2011: JASCO deployed a single AMAR at the Klondike and Burger well sites, and near the Statoil lease area.

2010: JASCO deployed clusters of seven AMARs each around the Klondike and Burger well sites, and in the Statoil lease area.

2009: JASCO deployed clusters of 12 AMARs each around the Klondike and Burger well sites.

2008: Cornell deployed clusters of 13 MARUs each around the Klondike and Burger well sites.