Environmental Monitoring Technologies for Marine Energy

Habitat Mapping

Project: Habitat Mapping

An important consideration with marine renewable energy (MRE) systems is their overall impact on surrounding habitats. Integral Consulting, Inc. is creating an accessible ecosystem monitoring method that uses pre- and post-installation habitat mapping to assess the impact of marine energy systems on their surrounding benthic habitat. The method is two-part: photographic and acoustic surveys.


Photographic Surveying

Sediment profile and plan viewing imaging (SPI/PV) is a photographic survey technology that was first developed in the 1970s as a benthic research tool. SPI/PV is useful for mapping sedimentological, geochemical, and ecological conditions on the seafloor. It obtains high-resolution images of the upper 20 cm of the sediment column with minimal physical or animal disturbance. It uses a prism camera that researchers insert vertically into the seafloor to capture a sediment profile, and the technology combines sonar seabed mapping capabilities and classification software to categorize the benthic habitat. This technology is commercially available but is not widely used and needs to be revamped for usability, which is the overarching goal of this work.


Acoustic Surveying

The project team completed an acoustic survey of Sequim Bay in Spring 2017. The first run included a multi-beam echosounder sonar survey and collection of surface sediment samples and SPI/PV images at 50 locations. The acoustics data provided baseline bathymetric imagery of the ocean floor and the sediment samples provided actual grain size. Both were compared to—and consistent with—the data from the SPI/PV.

Researchers completed an additional survey at Sequim’s Dungeness spit in 2018 and will be returning to MSL in 2019 to use those findings for technical development to improve camera capabilities.


Triton’s contributions:


  • Access to the R/V Jack Robertson
  • Boat crew
  • Personnel to help deploy system
  • Permitted sites in Sequim Bay and the Dungeness Spit
  • Onshore assistance
  • An acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP)
  • Data backup storage