Digital Aerial Baseline Survey of Marine Wildlife in Support of Offshore Wind Energy - WEA 2016
NYSERDA, APEM, Normandeau Associates

Dataset credit

NYSERDA, APEM, Normandeau Associates


Primary contact Michelle Vukovich Normandeau Associates, Inc.
Data entry Ei Fujioka Duke University



In support of New York State's commitment to incorporating offshore wind into its energy portfolio, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) embarked on a multi-year ultrahigh-resolution aerial digital survey of marine resources in a 12,650 square nautical mile offshore planning area (OPA) in 2016. The OPA encompasses the waters of the New York Bight from Long Island southeast to the continental shelf break. Surveys are conducted on a quarterly basis, timed to coincide with periods of abundance of avian and marine species vulnerable to impacts from offshore wind activities. This report summarizes the results of the first two surveys conducted in July–August and November 2016. Each survey collected images covering at least 7% of the OPA.

Of the more than 700,000 images collected within the survey area during these two surveys, 3.8% (27,135 images) contained organisms, including 38 bird, 17 fish, 5 whales, 7 dolphin, 1 seal, and 4 sea turtle species. Some seasonal patterns were evident. During the summer survey, the vast majority of the organisms observed were rays (8,388 images) or birds (1,893 images). During the fall survey, birds predominated (12,352 images). Shearwaters, storm-petrels, and terns were substantially more abundant in the summer while ducks, gannets, gulls and phalaropes were substantially more abundant in the fall. Turtles, sharks, and large bony fishes were all most abundant in the summer, though present in the fall. Number of images with marine mammals was similar in both surveys.

Spatial patterns were apparent in some taxonomic groups. A number of species tended to occur in nearshore waters including large gulls and least, royal and Sterna terns. Turtles typically occurred inshore of the 70 m isobath. Audubon's, sooty, and Cory's shearwaters clustered in the northeast corner of the OPA. Whales, Audubon's shearwaters, and black-capped petrels were most common near the shelf break. While sharks exhibited no clear patterns, rays showed some tendency to cluster off the mouth of New York Harbor. Large bony fishes typically occurred in deeper waters.

Results from the surveys will be incorporated into efforts to identify suitable areas for development of offshore wind projects.



Supplemental information




Attributes described below represent those in the original dataset provided by the provider.
Only minimum required attributes are visible and downlodable online. Other attributes may be obtained upon provider's permission unless otherwise noted below.

This section explains attributes included in the original dataset. OBIS-SEAMAP restricts the attributes available to the public to date/time, lat/lon and species names/counts only. Should you need other attributes described here, you are encouraged to contact the data provider.

Attributes in dataset provided

Attribute (table column)Description
oidUnique ID number (generated by OBIS-SEAMAP)
snag_idUnique ID for target Each entry is 1 individual (except for Fish Shoals which is one entry per 1 shoal encompassing uncounted number of fish)
surveySurvey identifier in format NYSERDA_SurveyArea_Survey#_Season YYYY SurveyArea = OPA (Offshore Planning Area) or WEA (Wind Energy Area)
seasonSeason of survey (Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring)
datetakenDate image taken, in local time (EST/EDT)
timetakenTime image taken, in local time (EST/EDT)
id_type1st level of identification
id_subtype2nd level of identification Target group type if identified Needs id = Target has not been reviewed for ID Unid. Type = Target has been reviewed and cannot be identified to a subtype
id_species3rd level of identification Common Name if identified Needs id = Target has not been reviewed for ID species unknown = Target has been reviewed and cannot be identified to species
sp_tsnTaxonomic Serial Number added by OBIS-SEAMAP
obs_countNumber of animal. Always 1
id_confidConfidence level of ID: Definite Probable Possible blank = not rated
id_byIndividual who identified target
lengthcmGenerally, head-to-tail length in cm. This is NOT turtle carapace. Ignored for non-animal & fish shoal. NULL = not determined
wingspancmWing span tip to tip in cm. 0 = wings are folded up/bird is sitting on surface. Applies to avian only
altitudemAltitude above sea level in meters of flying birds. 0 = non-flying bird; unk = unable to calculate altitude of flying bird. Applies to avian only
surfaceDepth rating. blank = not rated
headingdegDirection of target (in degrees)
listedYes = Species/Species Group status is listed (as of 2016)
parentimgImage name where target is located
latitudeLatitude in decimal degrees (WGS84)
longitudeLongitude in decimal degrees (WGS84)
areaSurvey area: Always OPA (Offshore Planning Area)
scientificScientific name if species is identified
familyFamily if species is identified
transectidCorresponding transect number in format Area-SurveyDateYYYYMMDD-Transect# (e.g. OPA-20160827-101)
transectnoCorresponding transect number only
geomGeometry field added by OBIS-SEAMAP
Marine mammals9
Sea turtles14
Rays and sharks79
Other species559
Non spatial0
Non species13
Date, Begin2016-07-27
Date, End2017-05-16
Temporal prec.111111
Latitude40.15 - 40.43
Longitude-73.67 - -73.04
Coord. prec.4 decimal digits
Data typeAnimal sighting
Sharing policy CC-BY (All)
Also availalbe from iOBIS
GBIF (planned)
See metadata in static HTML
See metadata in FGDC XML
See download history / statistics