C-POD on Christmas day aboard a drilling-rig in the North Sea. © OSC 2011.

C-POD on Christmas day aboard a drilling-rig in the North Sea. © OSC 2011.

The C-POD detects the bio-sonar (echolocation clicks) of odontocetes (toothed whales, dolphins and porpoises), providing temporal (time) data on animal activity, as an indication of presence or habitat usage. Other behaviours such as feeding activity can also be inferred, but involves considerably more and highly specialised data analyses, which OSC can provide on request (see research publications downloadable from www.osc.co.uk). This Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) system is relatively low-cost, fully automated (battery powered) and static (i.e. surface or sub-surface moored), providing a cost effective method to gather large datasets over long periods with minimal field-effort.

The C-POD is the digital successor to the T-POD (www.t-pod.co.uk) and is not only capable of detecting broader-band clicks compared to the T-POD, but also collects a much wider range of data which allows for the advancement of species identification. The C-POD comprises an omni-directional hydrophone, a digital processor and timing/logging system, battery pack and analysis software. The C-POD (and T-POD) is capable of detecting harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) activity up to a range of approximately 300 m, with close to 100% detection reliability within a radius of around 100 m.

With the use of digital waveform characterisation, the C-POD selects and logs odontocete click time, centre frequency, sound pressure level, duration and bandwidth. The C-POD has a very low false positive rate and can log the broadband clicks of dolphins without using large amounts of memory. The C-POD can run for four months on eight alkaline D-cells and a removable Secure Digital (SD) memory card allows for rapid servicing at sea, as no computer is required for downloading data. The C-POD is also buoyant and therefore self-orientating, but requires considerable expertise when designing and safely implementing moorings.

C-POD application

C-POD deployment over the side of a rig. © OSC 2011.

C-POD deployment over the side of a rig. © OSC 2011.

The C-POD is designed ideally for monitoring odontocete activity over any period amounting to hours, days, weeks, months, or even years. This Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) equipment is optimised for conducting Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs), collection of baseline data prior to, during and after industrial activities, investigating odontocete interactions with offshore industries such as pile-driving and conductor-ramming associated with drilling rigs and wind farm installations, other marine renewable energy devices (MREDs), and fisheries interactions. Any study requiring information on odontocete distribution, density, population trends, habitat usage, and echolocation behaviour over time benefit from C-POD data. The C-POD also complements real-time Passive Acoustic Monitoring of cetaceans (see www.pamsystems.co.uk).

C-PODs are currently being used for SAMBAH (Static Acoustic Monitoring of the Baltic Harbour porpoise), an international European Union LIFE-funded projected aiming to estimate density and abundance of harbour porpoises in the Baltic Sea.

C-POD experts

Since 2004, Ocean Science Consulting Limited (OSC) has been using the C-POD (and T-POD) to monitor marine mammal activity around oil & gas rigs, production platforms (see research publications downloadable from www.osc.co.uk) and wind farms. Usually, marine scientists deploy many C-PODs (and/or T-PODs) simultaneously and anticipate losing a high percentage; however, OSC scientists have developed several unique deployment and mooring methods that have resulted in a 100% recovery rate of our C-PODs and T-PODs to date, i.e. none lost. Ocean Science Consulting has also been comparing C-POD and T-POD performance in the Danish and German sectors of the North Sea. Please see www.t-pod.co.uk for more information about how OSC scientists were the first in the world to monitor harbour porpoises feeding activity around offshore oil and gas installations in the North Sea. From these studies, we were able to show the importance of an offshore production platform as a nocturnal feeding ground for porpoises in an area that was over-fished. Ocean Science Consulting advocates strongly leaving decommissioned oil rigs and platforms in situ at the end of their operational lifetime to act as artificial reefs, a topic that has been overwhelmingly supported by most of the scientific community.

Ocean Science Consulting comprises highly qualified and experienced team of marine scientists with an in-depth knowledge of Passive Acoustic Monitoring (see www.passiveacousticmonitoring.com) and C-POD (and T-POD) applications. We provide project planning and implementation, including survey design, field technicians, deployment, and data analysis (www.osc.co.uk).

Company Experience

Based in Scotland and operating world-wide since 2004, our scientists have worked for a wide-range of clients including the military, BASF, RWE Dea, Maersk, Shell, Noble (drilling), Noble Denton, SFF, PGS, Gardline, RSK, CGGVeritas, Fugro, Subsea7 etc. Please consult our references at www.osc.co.uk for a full list of clients. Client testimonials are also available upon request. We are contracted both directly or subcontracted and adhere strictly to confidentiality agreements.

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