Marine Mammals

The fieldwork for SeaBee’s marine mammal application testing starts officially in 2023, but drones have been used to count seals in Norway for the last 5-6 years with a normal (Red Green Blue/RGB) camera. The animals are identified and annotated directly from the images.

 

In November 2020, an Infra-Red (IR) camera was tested, showing great potential. This will be explored further.

There are tentative plans to tag seals in the Vestfold region in September 2021, combining this work with NINA’s seabird surveys, and maybe even with NIVAs surveys on marine habitats

Seabirds

Until now, NINA has been mapping and annotating bird nests, mostly of black-headed gulls, in the Oslofjord. A joint survey with IMR was initially planned in 2020 to conduct fieldwork relating to seabirds and mammals, but this was not possible due to COVID-19.

 

This application focuses mostly on gulls and eiders, identifying both individuals and their nests. Unlike some other surveys, these can be time-sensitive. To identify nests, surveys need to be conducted in nesting areas during the month of May. However, bird identification can usually be done anywhere and at any time.

 

In 2021, there are plans to conduct fieldwork in the inner Oslofjord during the spring, around May and June, specifically for surveying black-headed gulls. SeaBee also has tentative plans for counting birds on the water in Vestfold later in the autumn of 2021, likely around September. The goal is to test out Infra-Red (IR) imaging to identify birds, particularly those resting on water.

Coastal Habitat Mapping

This SeaBee application focuses on developing protocol for habitats in the coastal zone, including seafloor substrate types, subsurface vegetation (such as seagrass, seaweed, and kelp), and other management-relevant species, such as blue mussels, the invasive Pacific oyster, and opportunistic turf algae. Points collected in the field will guide annotations for use in machine learning procedures.

Activities have been delayed due to COVID-19 restrictions, logistics, and seasonal limitations, but are now starting in 2021.

 

Several organisations within SeaBee will be focusing on different aspects of Coastal Habitat Mapping:

  • NIVA – Led by Trine Bekkby
    • NIVA has a survey planned for Autumn 2021 in Oslofjord and one in Møre in Spring 2022. In 2021, the focus will be on seagrass meadows, including their dynamics, properties, and health variations. The team will be visiting the same locations throughout the season, starting from Autumn 2021.
    • If possible, NIVA will also cover seaweed beds, beds of the invasive Pacific oyster, and other habitats in the vicinity of the seagrass beds. Blue mussel beds will also be covered if they are found near the planned surveyed areas.
    • Beach deposits are already being mapped in collaboration with a project with a PhD exchange student from China.
  • NINA
    • NINA will be focusing on salt marshes. NINA staff will most likely be joining NIVA during their fieldwork, looking for salt marshes in the vicinity of seagrass meadows, and using NIVA drones.
  • NTNU
    • Fieldwork is planned in Hopavågen in May and September 2021, covering silt, sand, rocky seabed, kelp forests, and patches of seagrass.
    • NTNU will be focusing on gathering Hyperspectral images using aerial and surface drones, validated with different kinds of technology, and field surveys
    • NTNU has six new students this year who will be working on the SeaBee project.

Water Quality

This application activity will start in 2023 and focus on water mass characteristics, including water transparency (relevant to the topic of ocean darkening),  harmful algal blooms, and more.

NTNU, with their students, has already started activities on the pelagic aspect of the project. NIVA has not started as of early 2021, but has already take steps to buy equipment for use on FerryBox and aerial drones. There will be collaboration with NTNU and NIVA on the testing of this equipment to make sure it is ready for use even before 2023.

This particular application of SeaBee will have synergies through NIVA with the Nautilus project