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Shell Alaska News and Events

Joint Monitoring Program In The Chukchi And Beaufort Seas

This report presents a comprehensive overview of the results of the marine mammal monitoring and mitigation program, and the research programs conducted by Shell Offshore, Inc. (Shell) in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas during Shell’s seismic activities in 2008, as well as other offshore industry and agency activities that occurred in both seas.

Mitigation and monitoring during seismic exploration activities were conducted in a relatively small portion of the MMS Chukchi Sea Lease Sale Area 193 and in the vicinity of specific lease holdings in the Beaufort Sea. Studies included vessel–based monitoring and mitigation programs in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, and an aerial–based monitoring and mitigation program in the Beaufort Sea.

Research programs were conducted over a much larger area in the both the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. The Chukchi Sea research program included an aerial monitoring component over the nearshore waters to ~32 km (20 mi) offshore of the Chukchi Sea coast between Pt. Hope and Barrow, and an acoustic component using arrays of bottom–founded recorders deployed relatively close to the coast and in areas further offshore.

During the research program in the Beaufort Sea, five arrays of directional recorders were used to monitor marine mammal (primarily bowhead whale) calling behavior relative to seismic activities. In 2008 a field program in the Arctic was initiated to investigate the use of an Unmanned Aerial System for surveys of marine mammals.