Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) Systems

Passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) systems are underwater hydrophones (either towed arrays or static moored systems), top-end processing units and software that detect and process underwater sound.

Deployment and setup of one of Ocean Science Consulting’s passive acoustic monitoring equipment on streamer sliding collars. © OSC 2011.

Deployment and setup of one of Ocean Science Consulting’s passive acoustic monitoring equipment on streamer sliding collars. © OSC 2011.

Ocean Science Consulting (OSC) Ltd. uses specialised passive acoustic monitoring systems to detect the vocalisations of whales, dolphins, porpoises and other marine mammals, during seismic, pile-driving, drilling, naval exercises or other anthropogenic (man-made) industrial activities that produce loud underwater noise.

Do I need a passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) system for my survey?

Visual observations of marine mammals can only be made during daylight hours and in favourable weather/seastate conditions. Should the weather deteriorate (e.g. fog, rain, increased wave height etc.) or the acoustic source continue throughout the night, when visual observations are not possible, there is the potential to cause damage to marine mammals in close vicinity to the sound source. This is especially salient if the anthropogenic noise pulses stop and then re-start at night. For mobile surveys, such as seismic, bathymetric, pipe/cable-laying, dredging etc. or for coverage of larger areas, such as during pile-driving for offshore windfarm installations, we advise the use of our towed passive acoustic monitoring systems. For other types of surveys, one of our fixed passive acoustic monitoring systems may be more appropriate.

Ocean Science Consulting’s passive acoustic monitoring systems and operators are deployed/work frequently on back-to-back 12-hour shifts, but are also used to augment daylight visual surveys by our marine mammal observers (MMOs) (see www.osc.co.uk). All our passive acoustic monitoring operators are also trained marine mammal observers.

Our passive acoustic monitoring systems and operators

Ocean Science Consulting Ltd. has many different types of passive acoustic monitoring system and full specifications can be provided upon request. Our passive acoustic monitoring systems are rented on a daily rate and can only be installed by one of our highly skilled installation engineers. Our own passive acoustic monitoring operators are qualified to degree level (usually in one of the sciences such as engineering or marine biology), are fluent with the use of our own systems, are physically fit, professional, diplomatic, non-emotional, hard-working, independent and can trouble-shoot in the field. They also benefit from 24-hour office-based technical support.

All our passive acoustic monitoring operators (both employees and subcontractors) are insured fully and hold a whole suite of offshore certifications and medical requirements. Our own passive acoustic monitoring operators are in high demand, so we do subcontract where the need arises. Subcontractor experience and ability varies wildly, is difficult to vet and regulate so in the long-term, we are moving away from the use of free-lancers, to full-time employees.

All Ocean Science Consulting’s passive full-time acoustic monitoring operators are obliged to undertake substantial pre-employment lengthy traineeships, are benchmarked regularly and continually attend training courses throughout their career with us. This results in a standard of passive acoustic monitoring operator head and shoulders above our competitors, which is why we are re-contracted for repeat contracts every year.

company experience

Incorporated and operational since in 2004, OSC has gone from strength-to-strength. We work world-wide and have an increasing full-time workforce comprising managers, marine consultants, marine mammal observers and passive acoustic monitoring operators. We are contracted directly or are subcontracted to some of the largest oil and gas companies in the world. A list of clients, past projects and references can be provided upon request.

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