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NEFSC and iXblue successfully complete a trial in the Block Island windfarm of the SeapiX-R 3D volume sonar

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24 March 2022

NOAA NEFSC has tested iXblue’s SeapiX 3D volume sonar in the Block Island windfarm off the coast of Rhode Island, the first commercial offshore wind farm in the United States. The objective of the evaluation was to observe and monitor the pelagic ecosystem often overshadowed by the demersal and benthic communities in the windfarm areas. 

As offshore wind farms will soon be an important component of the New England and mid-Atlantic seascape, novel methods to survey and monitor the animals that reside or migrate through these areas will become necessary as they are a critical component of the life history of many commercially and ecologically important species. Moreover, limited capability to physically sample the biota with capture gear in and around offshore wind farms will necessitate using alternative sensing solutions to monitor the pelagic ecosystem. Active acoustic technologies like iXblue’s SeapiX 3D volume sonar can survey large areas quickly and efficiently to map spatio-temporal distributions and estimate abundance and biomass. 

SeapiX is the first compact civilian system comprising a dual Mills Cross multibeam sonar transducer offering complete control to fishermen and fisheries researchers. Its transducer generates several simultaneous multibeam transmissions and acoustic processes to yield quantitatively and qualitatively impressive measurements of the marine environment. This solid-state 3D multibeam sonar which operates at 150 kHz, brings new insights to the scientific community for the evaluation and the monitoring of marine environments and can provide real-time full 3D biomass assessment.

Guillaume Matte, R&D manager for SeapiX at iXblue comments: "it was a fantastic opportunity to run these tests together with NOAA experts. Marine Renewable energy installations require specific biomass assessment surveys to qualify impact, and we believe that Seapix adds a real value to this application. It offers a more insightful experience for fish detection and mapping and provide valuable information on fish behavior as well. We are grateful to the NOAA fishery scientists on-board during this survey for discerning conversations and for sharing their enthusiasm about SeapiX."