The Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands (Plocan) has joined the EU-backed SATURN project whose focus is on the reduction and mitigation of underwater noise from shipping that threatens marine life.

A photo of a common dolphin dwarfed by a ship in the NE Atlantic (Courtesy of Plocan/©Pauhla McGran)
Common dolphin dwarfed by a ship in the NE Atlantic (Courtesy of Plocan/©Pauhla McGran)

Plocan is in charge of developing a Virtual Research
Environment that collects and allows external users to access to the progress
and to the results of the project.

In response to serious global concerns about the declining
health of our oceans, the €8.96 million Horizon 2020 funded SATURN project, due
to start in 2021, represents a significant EU investment that directly supports
attainment of targets for a cleaner, quieter maritime sector.

PLOCAN’S Virtual Research Environment will consist in a
resource hub for researchers (bio-acousticians, biologists, marine R&D
engineers, etc.) to access SATURN results in an interactive way.

It will include an advanced housing of technical and
analytical tools for processing, analysis and visualisation of underwater noise
from ships and boats produced by SATURN technical activities, according to
Plocan.

The environment will allow on-line collaborative
experimentation with tools for acoustic signal processing and acoustic metrics
relevant to the impact of underwater shipping noise on aquatic life.

The environment will be deployed and hosted by Plocan and
connected to the European Research Infrastructure GEANT network to facilitate the
sustainability of SATURN results beyond the project lifetime.

The project, which is led by MaREI, Science Foundation
Ireland’s Research Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine and hosted by
University College Cork, involves a large consortium of EU participants which
includes 20 project partners from 10 European countries.

SATURN benefits from a uniquely integrated and
interdisciplinary approach with acousticians, marine biologists, maritime
engineers and standards bodies working side-by-side and in tandem with a large
well-structured group of international stakeholders to create and test
innovative solutions for reducing the most harmful effects of underwater noise.

Gerry Sutton, Project lead and MaREI Research Fellow, said: “It is an absolute privilege to be leading such a talented and committed group of scientists and engineers. Everyone put 100% into the proposal, finding common ground by bridging traditional boundaries between their respective disciplines. This means we are now all very much looking forward to the new year when will jointly embark on our exciting four-year work programme”.

SATURN will be working towards uncovering the physical
mechanisms of underwater noise production, methods for how the noise signature
of individual ships can be assessed cost effectively, understanding how marine
mammals, fish and invertebrates respond to various sound various levels and
frequencies they receive, and real-life case studies to test the effectiveness
of technical and operational efforts in reducing shipping noise through smart
regional management policies.

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