OSC provides Marine Mammal Observers (MMOs) for the marine seismic industries. Our experienced and qualified MMOs assist in reducing the impact of operations on the marine environment without breaching environmental protocols and regulations to ensure that marine industrial operations are compliant with mitigation guidelines. Marine Mammal Observers are also used for the purposes of scientific research, for example when employing distance-sampling methodologies to derive population estimates. In both cases, mitigation actions, including soft starts, delayed soft starts and airgun shutdown, will be implemented when marine mammals or turtles are sighted within specified distances (typically 500 or 1000 m).
All our Marine Mammal Observers hold the full suite of offshore training qualifications, including:
- OPITO/OLF/NOGEPA Basic Offshore Safety and Emergency Training (BOSIET);
- Helicopter Underwater Escape Training (HUET); and,
- Compressed Air Emergency Breathing System (CA-EBS) initial deployment training.
As part of being involved in large industry projects, our MMOs often receive extra training. Additional courses include:
- STCW 95 basic training;
- Shell Marine Safety Induction including Man Over Board (MOB) training; and,
- Van Oord Safety Induction including Environmental & Political Management.
- OGUK (UKOOA); and,
- Norwegian Continental Shelf.
Marine Mammal Observer:
OSC also runs a New Zealand DOC accredited MMO and PAM training course.
MMOs are typically experienced and qualified prior to joining our team, but most candidates, particularly cruise leaders, still receive in-house training to ensure a high standard is adopted by OSC staff, at all times. It also ensures that there is a pool of personnel adopting universal methodologies, which in turn can facilitate data comparability for future surveys and monitoring.
MMO guidelines vary from country to country, but our MMOs are flexible, stay up to date, and have extensive knowledge of operational procedures and industry regulations. This enables them to interpret and implement all guidelines quickly and efficiently in real-time situations, which minimises disruption and operational downtime. OSC MMOs can work to all guidelines, but those used most commonly include:
- United Kingdom Continental Shelf (UKCS) waters: Joint Nature Conservation Committee guidelines (JNCC, 2010) exist for seismic data acquisition, pile driving and explosions. Guidelines apply to both cetaceans and pinnipeds;
- Irish waters: National Parks & Wildlife Service Guidance to Manage the Risk to Marine Mammals from Man-made Sound Sources in Irish Waters (NPWS, 2013), details requirements for dredging, drilling, pile driving, geophysical acoustic surveys, and blasting. Guidelines are similar to JNCC, and apply to cetaceans and pinnipeds;
- Gulf of Mexico: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) guidelines (BOEM & BSEE, 2012) specify mitigation requirements for seismic surveys. Guidelines apply to marine mammals and sea turtles, but stricter measures apply for whales;
- Australian waters: The Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and Arts 2008 EPBC Act Policy Statement 2.1 Interaction between offshore seismic exploration and whales applies to cetaceans, but the regulator NOPSEMA specifies that mitigation measures must also apply to whale sharks. Turtles also need to be considered during the planning phases; and,
- New Zealand waters: Department Of Conservation code of conduct (DOC, 2013) applies to cetaceans and pinnipeds during seismic surveys.
The science of infra-red (IR) night-time vision technology is still in its infancy. We have conducted some preliminary research on night-vision systems and trialed their use in the field during marine mammal observations, with poor results, so OSC is unable to warrant and recommend this methodology. Nevertheless, we are willing and capable of providing this service according to regulatory necessity (e.g. German and Australian waters).
Contact us for further information.