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Offshore Wind Lease Area Surveys Underway

KITTY HAWK — Avingrid Renewables through Oct. 15 will be conducting high-resolution geophysical survey work at the Kitty Hawk offshore wind area.

The Kitty Hawk Wind Energy Area is 24 miles off the coasts of Virginia and North Carolina. Photo: Avangrid Renewables

The survey work that was scheduled to begin June 25 will take place around the clock near the wind lease area and proposed cable corridor of Sandbridge, Virginia, to east of Corolla.

Avangrid Renewables won the bid in 2017 to lease 122,405 acres located 24 miles offshore of North Carolina and Virginia coasts from the federal government. Surveys of the Kitty Hawk area are expected to be complete by the end of the year and the company aims to have an offshore wind farm in commercial operation by 2025.

The company earlier this year began gathering data using high-tech aerial surveys on offshore wildlife including birds, sharks, rays, turtles, fish and marine mammals like whales and dolphins, according to the company.

Avangrid Renewables is resuming studying the Kitty Hawk Offshore Wind Lease Area with the high-resolution geophysical surveys to characterize seabed and subsurface conditions.

The work will include bathymetry, or studying the terrain of the ocean floor, magnetic measurements, side scan sonar imaging, seabed stratigraphy, or geology of the ocean floor, sediment sampling of the benthic zone, or lowest level of water and some subsurface, and video imaging.

The high-resolution geographical surveys in the Kitty Hawk Lease Area will take place where one or more cable route corridors will be established to support the development of an offshore wind project, according to the unpublished PDF  of the incidental harassment authorization.”Underwater sound resulting from use of (high-resolution geographical) equipment for site characterization purposes can have the potential to result in incidental take of marine mammals.”

High-resolution geographical surveys that typically occur in shallow waters are different than the deep penetration seismic surveys. Seismic surveys, which occur in deeper offshore waters and are associated with oil and gas exploration, are not used for renewable energy development, the proposed incidental harassment authorization states.

It was determined that “take of marine mammals is anticipated to be in the form of Level B harassment only; no serious injury or mortality is anticipated or authorized,” per the authorization issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, effective June 1 through May 31, 2020. The official form, dated June 25, is scheduled to be published Friday on the Federal Register.

Fishermen fishing or transiting northeast of Oregon Inlet and southeast of Virginia Beach, Virginia, are encouraged to note the survey area locations, activities, and timing.

To contact Rick Robins, the fisheries liaison, call 757-876-3778 or rick@fathomedgelimited.com. The project manager, Jennifer Eastaugh, can be reached at 617-981-5530 or jennifer.eastaugh@avangrid.com.
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The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.