Eric Munday, Biosonics Inc.

Long-Range Target Detection and Classification System for Monitoring at MHK Sites

BioSonics Inc. are developing a long-range acoustic monitoring system to assess marine life behavior at marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) project sites. The fully-automated system includes a Perimeter Detector to detect and geo-locate targets at ranges of 200-300 meters and a Directed Classifier that aims at each detected target to track its position in three dimensions.  This tracking capability allows automated measurement of target behavior (i.e., speed, direction and tortuosity), a strong target classifier.  Acoustic signatures will also be analyzed to provide additional target classification information.

In developing the system, BioSonics are improving upon existing DT-X Automated Monitoring System (AMS) technology, currently in operation at several US Navy and nuclear power plant sites.  Planned improvements include performance optimization for MHK project monitoring and overall cost reductions.  Split beam acoustic technology is the most effective way to assess marine life behavior at range, but use of existing technology has been limited at MHK sites due to concerns around potential behavioral changes of marine mammals due to their ability to “hear” the monitoring system. BioSonics will implement new shaped pulse and Chirp capabilities to suppress off-frequency sound energy within the hearing range of marine mammals while increasing the overall detection range.

Funding for the development of the system is via an award from US Energy Department who recently allocated over $20 million for projects that advance and monitor MHK energy systems.  MHK developers, regulators and the public need to understand how candidate MHK devices affect the behavior of marine organisms for project permitting. The long range target detection and classification system will help to improve, test, and validate cost reductions in environmental monitoring equipment.  This in turn will give industry a deeper understanding of interactions between MHK systems and the marine environment.