A new underwater monitoring platform has been deployed to capture environmental data from the Bay of Fundy.
FAST-3 is the third sensor platform built and deployed by the Fundy Ocean Research Center for Energy (FORCE) in the Minas Passage.
“FORCE was created to explore whether in-stream tidal energy can be a safe, viable alternative to fossil fuel use, and help protect our ecosystem from the long term impacts of climate change,” said FORCE general manager Tony Wright. “As a part of this exploration, it’s critical that each turbine technology demonstrates it can co-exist with other uses of the Bay.”
FAST-3 includes a suite of sensors to gather data on fish presence and behaviour, including an acoustic zooplankton and fish profiler and an autonomous scientific echo sounder, FORCE noted.
“This platform will help us continue to enhance our marine life monitoring program,” said Wright. “While international research indicates fish and marine mammals generally avoid in-stream tidal turbines, we need to test those findings here in the Minas Passage, with the best tools available.”
Results from the current FAST-3 deployment will help FORCE identify the best sensor settings and operating schedule for future data collection at the FORCE demonstration site.
Dr. Haley Viehman, a post-doctoral fellow at Acadia University, will be analyzing the data upon retrieval.
“I’ll be examining how fish use the water column, and how their densities and depths vary with respect to time of day, tidal stage, and current speed,” said Dr. Viehman. “Understanding when fish are present, and how fish are spread out in the water column, will help us assess the potential for interaction with an in-stream tidal turbine at this location.”