Digital Aerial Baseline Survey of Marine Wildlife in Support of Offshore Wind Energy - OPA 2017

NYSERDA, APEM, Normandeau Associates

Dataset credit

NYSERDA, Normandeau Associates Inc., APEM Ltd.


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 ultra-high resolution aerial digital survey of marine resources in a 43,745.20 km2 (12,754.06 mi2) 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 that could be vulnerable to impacts from offshore wind activities. Each survey collected images covering at least 7% of the OPA.
For each survey, approximately 300,000 images were collected within the OPA using a transect design. During the first survey year, special attention was also paid to the wind energy area (WEA) using a more detailed grid survey design, collecting around 100,000 images. Each survey collected images covering at least 10% of the WEA. WEA survey data are in a separate dataset.
There was some variation in sampling effort among surveys as a different camera system that captured a larger footprint was used after the Summer 2016 survey.

YR2 consists of Survey05 Summer2017, Survey06 Fall2017, Survey07 Winter2017-18, Survey08 Spring2018.


The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) contracted with Normandeau Associates Inc. (Normandeau) and teaming partner APEM Inc. (APEM) to use high resolution aerial digital imagery to collect data on birds, marine mammals, sea turtles, cartilaginous fish, and other taxa encountered offshore. Surveys are conducted four times a year over three years. The surveys have been designed in light of available historical data and use the latest digital and sensor technology to provide high identification success. Survey results for birds, marine mammals, turtles, and cartilaginous fish are presented in semiannual reports, which will cumulatively provide insight into interseasonal and interannual variation in species composition, densities, and distributions. Reports are available at

Supplemental information

[2022-06-06] The following recorded species names got their assigned scientific names corrected.
SAND TIGER SHARK: Carcharhinus plumbeus => Carcharias taurus
SANDERLING: Carcharias taurus => Calidris alba
BLACK SCOTER: Pluvialis squatarola => Melanitta nigra
BLACK TERN: Pterodroma hasitata => Chlidonias niger
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER: Rissa tridactyla => Pluvialis squatarola
BLACK-CAPPED PETREL: Melanitta nigra => Pterodroma hasitata
BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE: Chlidonias niger => Rissa tridactyla
LOGGERHEAD TURTLE: Cheloniidae => Caretta caretta
LOGGERHEAD/KEMP'S TURTLE: Caretta caretta => Cheloniidae
RED PHALAROPE: Mergus serrator => Phalaropus fulicarius
RED/RED-NECKED PHALAROPE: Phalaropus lobatus => Phalaropus
RED-BREASTED MERGANSER: Phalaropus fulicarius => Mergus serrator
RED-NECKED PHALAROPE: Phalaropus => Phalaropus lobatus
SANDBAR SHARK: Calidris alba => Carcharhinus plumbeus

[2020-08-06] Data were updated with additional attributes. Species identification was revised.

Transect area is calculated based on the planned aircraft altitude and assumed to be a consistent value. Actual coverage of the area may vary due to fluctuations in the aircraft altitude during the survey. This may result in target observation points being displayed outside the transect area.

Tracklines are viewable online as a static layer.

The data in 2016 is available at




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 described below represent those in the original dataset provided by the provider.
All attributes are included in the downloadable file (CSV or ESRI File Geodatabase) for "Complete Set of Dataset".

Attributes in dataset

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)
surveyidSurvey identifier including Number, Season, and Year
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 animals (always 1)
id_confidConfidence level of ID: Definite Probable Possible blank = not rated
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
alterrorMean altitude error (meters) = the average error for each species in the species group
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)
sargassumSargassum is present in image with target. 1 = present; 0 = not present; blank = not evaluated
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
shoalidFor fish shoals: Unique identifier for individual shoal
shlareasqmFor fish shoals: Area of shoal in square meters. Measurement of area is limited to shoal visibility.
shlextendFor fish shoals: Yes/No if shoal extends beyond the aerial image. Shoals are only measured up to edge of image; if they extend beyond the image, that portion is unable to be included in the shoal area.
visibilityVisibility (greater than, km)
seastateSea State (mean values) 0 Calm (Glass) 1 Calm (Rippled) 2 Smooth 3 Slight 4 Moderate
glintGlint Percentage (highest %)
turbidityTurbidity (mean values) 0 Clear 1 Slightly Turbid 2 Moderately Turbid 3 Highly Turbid
precipduraPrecipitation duration in time (minutes)
cloudClound Cover Percentage (highest %) 0-10% Clear 11-15% Scattered 51-94% Broken 95-100% Overcast
airtemp_cAir Temperature (°Celsius)
pressurePressure (inHg)
windspeedWind Speed (kts)
winddirectWind Direction (degrees)
geomGeometry field added by OBIS-SEAMAP
Marine mammals4,620
Sea turtles725
Rays and sharks7,136
Other species50,853
Non spatial0
Non species723
Date, Begin2017-08-06
Date, End2018-04-26
Temporal prec.111111
Latitude38.46 - 41.01
Longitude-73.89 - -70.61
Coord. prec.4 decimal digits
Data typeAnimal sighting
Traveled (km)0
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