Train to monitor protected species at offshore wind energy sitesS. Himmelstein | June 27, 2022
An expanded partnership between a Danish power developer and a New Jersey university provides new opportunities for education and employment in the wind sector.
The initiative launched by Ørsted and Stockton University will train six Protected Species Observers (PSOs) to monitor the North Atlantic right whale and other marine wildlife, such as harbor seals.
The university will offer a certificate program for the training, and graduates will visit Ørsted’s Ocean Wind 1, scheduled to be operational in 2024 with 97, 900-ft tall wind turbines 15 miles off the New Jersey coast, and other regional offshore wind farms. During site investigations and construction and operational activities, the PSOs will monitor, record and share sightings of right whales and other protected species. Under the agreement, Ørsted will provide funding to assist in promoting educational programming related to alternative energy, climate change and resiliency.
This certification program meets U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration requirements for PSO training and will include a combination of classroom and field time in coastal waters. In the classroom, students will learn about daily responsibilities as a PSO, the methods and equipment used to monitor for protected species, background information on when and why PSOs are needed, and more. In the field, students will participate in nearshore vessel surveys aboard the R/V Petrel and gain practical hands-on experience with typical PSO equipment and computer software, practice monitoring techniques and mitigation scenarios, build communication skills, and learn how to identify marine mammal species that occur in the mid-Atlantic.
Ocean Wind 1 will also provide funding to enable Stockton University to study the habitat usage of harbor seals, which are susceptible to habitat loss, in southern New Jersey through 2024.