About the C-POD

The C-POD is a static and autonomous Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) device used globally by environmental consultancies, the scientific community, governmental and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to detect underwater bio-sonar or echolocation clicks of toothed cetaceans, known as “odontocetes” (systematic name Odontoceti), which include the sperm whale, beaked whales, dolphins, and porpoises. The C-POD is increasingly employed by marine industries to comply with environmental monitoring requirements for a variety of coastal and offshore operations, ranging from seismic and drilling exploration to mining and construction.

The C-POD (www.cpodclickdetector.com) offers cutting-edge technology in static and autonomous Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM), which, like its analogue predecessor the T-POD (www.t-pod.co.uk), consists of an omni-directional hydrophone encased in a custom-designed housing to protect components and reduce surface noise. The C-POD comprises a digital logging/timing system, a digital processor, and specialist analytical software. Although cetaceans produce a range of very different vocalisation types, the C-POD focusses specifically on detecting regular and distinct series of sonar clicks called ‘click trains’.

Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) mother and calf in Irish waters © OSC 2012

Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) mother and calf in Irish waters. © OSC 2012.

The C-POD is able to record clicks between 9 kHz and 170 kHz (although, to some extent, this can be manipulated to target specific species). For each click train, the C-POD logs the duration, frequency, bandwidth and click intensity, an important factor in determining potential effects (if any) of anthropogenic (man-made) noise in any study. The C-POD also continuously monitors temperature and angle in the water column.

The accompanying analytical software is able to distinguish between cetacean and non-cetacean clicks, such as boat sonar. With careful experimental design – and if sufficient C-PODs are configured correctly in the water column – the C-POD may be used to assess and estimate individual animal click trains and, in some cases, down to species level.

Killer whale (Orcinus orca) breaching off Vancouver Island, Canada © OSC 2012.

Killer whale (Orcinus orca) breaching off Vancouver Island, Canada. © OSC 2012.

The C-POD is now accepted as the standard environmental monitoring tool for static and autonomous Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) of odontocetes. As such, the C-POD is recommended by the United Kingdom’s Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) to assess potential impacts of industrial operations. The C-POD’s proven track record, robust design and reliability, have out-competed other emergent technologies; however, the analytical software is undergoing continuous research and development (R & D) and refinement by both the manufacturer and the research community, including Ocean Science Consulting (www.osc.co.uk) consultants. Moreover, Ocean Science Consulting is currently funding a PhD at the University of Southampton’s prestigious Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR), part of which involves using C-PODs to assess the interaction of the harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) and marine industries.

The C-POD has a very low power requirement, and can run for a number of months without interim services. Data are recorded onto a removable memory card, which allows a rapid field service. In effect, the C-POD is an extremely time and cost effective way to collect environmental data about cetaceans in the waters around industrial activities.

Configuring a C-POD for use on an exploration drilling rig © OSC 2012

Configuring a C-POD for use on an exploration drilling rig. © OSC 2012.

Why use OSC for your C-POD study?

Unlike other organisations who expect to lose up to 80% of their C-PODs, Ocean Science Consulting has maintained a 100% recovery rate due to our unique mooring designs. Depending on logistics and environmental conditions of the survey area, modifications to the mooring system are usually required.

Ocean Science Consulting’s highly trained and experienced installation engineers evaluate each situation before adapting C-POD moorings to suit your project needs. Moreover, with expert knowledge, it is possible to further interpret click trains and identify behavioural categories such as feeding. This requires highly specialised data analysis, which Ocean Science Consulting is able to provide on request. For a list of our publications on marine mammals and other wildlife, refer to our main website: www.osc.co.uk

Current C-POD applications

The C-POD is increasingly selected for a variety of environmental monitoring and scientific investigations, due to the superior quality of the data collected. The C-POD has been proven to work extremely well in areas with high ambient noise levels, with a detection range three times higher than that of previous acoustic detection models.

Mooring C-PODs around oil and gas installations in the North Sea © OSC 2012

Mooring C-PODs around oil and gas installations in the North Sea. © OSC 2012.

A recent study conducted by Ocean Science Consulting found a surprisingly high rate of porpoise feeding activity around various oil and gas platforms in the North Sea (download PDF). This investigation has been critical in re-opening the debate on whether to remove decommissioned oil rigs or dispose of these structures at sea when they reach the end of their operational lifetimes. The research suggests that these installations provide essential feeding grounds for small cetaceans in areas of severe over-fishing. Footage showing some of the marine life which thrives on and around submerged platforms can be viewed here www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUhgCWBcT3k.

The C-POD can be used before, during and after construction of offshore developments such as wind farms or tidal turbines. The C-POD is ideal for use during Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs), as several can be deployed to cover large areas (such as potential wind farms) and left for up to several years, with very little maintenance costs and fieldwork effort. In addition, the C-POD is increasingly employed to investigate cetacean and fishery interactions.

During construction operations, the use of the C-POD is a vital supplement to visual observations in order to allow the client more flexibility and efficiency in terms of 24/7 monitoring and in all weather conditions. It is important to monitor any new marine development for some time after completion, in order to gain a more complete picture of how industrial operations affect marine life e.g. structures are known to create reef effects.

Ocean Science Consulting

Since its incorporation in 2004, Ocean Science Consulting has gone from strength to strength, providing top-of-the-range specialist equipment and highly trained and experienced scientists to marine industries industries, military, media and academic institutions. All employees have a minimum of 2:1 (Hons) degree Marine Biology (or similar), and our senior consultants are qualified to MSc and PhD level. While in-field, our fully certified and insured staff benefit from 24/7 land-based expert support for any technical or logistical issues.

Ocean Science Consulting can provide all acoustic equipment and associated software (www.passiveacousticmonitoring.co.uk), as well as dedicated and experienced Marine Mammal Observers or MMOs (www.marinemammalobserver.com), and Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) Operators (www.passiveacousticmonitoring.com). For more information about any of these services, to discuss your environmental monitoring or scientific survey requirements, to find out more about our services, and to review our past clientèle, please visit our main website at www.osc.co.uk

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