Emerging Technologies and the Future of BOEM Ocean Science

>> Good afternoon I’m Diana Warring, Director of the Department of the Interior Museum and it’s my pleasure to welcome you to our latest installment of our lunchtime lecture series And as many of you know these presentations tend to encompass a wide range of topics that reflect the diverse workings of our bureaus in the Department of the Interior, past and present Today’s program is a discussion on BOEM’s emerging technology and the future of BOEM ocean science Before we get started I do want to point out that on your seats you have a feedback form and we encourage you to fill them out and deposit them in the tray outside A lot of our lecture ideas do come from our employees and members of the public just wanting to learn more or wanting to highlight something that you are working on or your colleagues are working on in your offices In terms of programs coming up on Wednesday October 2nd Marnie Pepper of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Chesapeake Bay Nutria Eradication Project will present, hopefully joined by a canine to discuss the use of trained canines in invasive species eradication That’s been done in public lands including National Park Service and other Department of the Interior lands On Thursday November 21st saw Sam Droege head of the U.S Geological Survey Native Bee Lab will give an introduction on Our over 400 local bee species, so not honeybees but our other native bees that are also worth saving So I do want to introduce Dr. Rodney Cluck He is the currently the chief of the Division of Environmental Sciences at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management He leads the Environmental Studies Program and that is the backbone the scientific backbone that informs policy decisions regarding leasing and development of ocean energy and non energy marine minerals resources He holds a Ph.D. in environmental sociology from Mississippi State University and a master’s degree in rural sociology from the University of Arkansas Fayetteville Please give me a hand in welcoming Dr. Rodney Cluck [Applause] >> Thank you Diana and thanks everybody for coming I really really appreciate this opportunity to speak with you today regarding emerging technology and the future of BOEM ocean science For those of you that aren’t familiar Just let me tell you that BOEM’s mission is to manage ocean energy and mineral resources on the Outer Continental Shelf in a safe and environmentally sound manner As Diana said I’m in the Environmental Program So what we do with regard to development in the ocean whether that’s oil and gas development or marine minerals or renewable energy is make sure that environmental protection informed by science is a foremost concern and an indispensable consideration We have to have the science and information in order to make good decisions And the Environmental Studies Program which I’m in charge of is the scientific backbone that informs BOEM decision making >> Our science is use-inspired in a sense in the sense that it’s applied science We use the results to inform the management decisions as I said we always adhere to the utmost levels of scientific integrity and credibility We seek partnerships and leverage funds where possible A lot of the studies I’m going to be talking about today and the work that we’re doing is with partners We engage with stakeholders regularly and the public and always ensure that we’re doing outreach and providing our information to the public >> But with regard to our decision making The first thing I’m going to talk about is air quality analysis We entered into an agreement with Goddard Space Flight Center to do work on on air quality and there’s a couple of objectives here >> What we were thinking was that we could use satellites and satellite data to actually measure offshore emissions in the Gulf of Mexico from the oil and gas platforms I sit on the subcommittee of Ocean Science and Technology and a colleague there Dr. Jack Kaye from NASA and I were talking one day over coffee and he started telling me about spectral analysis from space and I said Well you know can you tell pollutants from there

And he said I don’t know Have your scientists come over and talk to our scientists So we did What you see here is we’re monitoring NO2 from satellite from space as you can see over New Orleans humans actually tend to pollute more than whatever is in the ocean even if it is an oil and gas platform So around the city it’s very concentrated around New Orleans But we were able to find two plumes out there and in red marks is where it’s high, in higher concentrations of NO2 >> So we were able to distinguish this from satellites, NASA satellites from space So the next step was to say OK let’s you know can we ground truth Can we verify. Can we be sure that it was valid So we we went out to try to understand if what we were seeing was valid and if the satellites were giving us accurate data So again talking to oil and gas platforms using satellites but also ground truthing to the ships This project was called SCOAPE, the Satellite Coastal and Oceanic Atmospheric Pollution Experiment The good news is it worked I mean using this type of technology is revolutionary because if we can look at pollution from space over the ocean we don’t have to send as many ships out or helicopters and inspectors to go and inspect We can target areas that are higher levels of concentrations of air pollution that we can observe from space are happening and then we can again target those those companies So again using spectral analysis essentially light from these satellites from space has really told us you know a lot of information So what we did with the SCOAPE project we again took the ships and then the information that we have from the satellites and we visited several platforms some big ones like Thunderhorse out there, Mars and Olympus is another one that we visited we also visited Petronius and again we were able to ground truth these things so you know it’s very exciting because again you know an idea one has talking over coffee just worked So I think you know for air quality analysis this is the future of almost the science This was not done over coffee But this is another really kind of cutting edge technique that we’re using now, cube satellites You know traditionally if if you have an animal tagged and swimming in the water out in the ocean your tag sends up signals on this slide We have just a handful of Argo satellites that were sent up in the 70s that actually get the signals from these tags and then they send it to a receiver station and they send it over to the data center So again the animal has to be in a certain place and the satellites have to be in a certain place for everything to work >> So what we’re really experimenting with now is cube satellites which are a little bit bigger than a coffee cup but you can shoot them up and they can fly around in swarms So you can have the information going up to one cube satellite that will talk to another, another, another, and another It will also talk to the Argo satellite. All that information can feed directly into the receiver center and then and then into the data center With all these different this swarm of cubes that you can have up there you can have different types of sensors that are up there not just the sensor for the big Argo satellite that you’ve got to send out but you can send you can keep sending up these cube satellites with different types of sensors that will allow you to have different types of information as information needs change So when we’re doing work like this at least with this one sometimes it’s good to introduce crowdsourcing so that’s like just to go out and say, “Hello world. What other ideas do you have out here that can maybe help us, help us in trying to make sure that we’re using the best technology that we’re using the best sensors to understand this phenomenon.” So we did this challenge with NASA The prize was $30,000 >> We got more than 400 individuals from 38 countries

>> So we got ideas about cube satellites and sensors from everywhere from South Africa to Pakistan to you know all over the place So out of these, all these 400 individuals, there were two winners one that was in London and another one in Stanford Actually it was five grad students in Stanford that came up with some ideas that we were able to use and actually really really implement those >> So when we’re using these type of satellites we’re able to track the animal much better We’re able to look at flipper stroke all these little red arrows coming up and down are flipper strokes Well when the animal turns it can turn 40 degrees These are the yellow areas there So it allows us to get a whole lot more information with regard to the animal’s movements, depth, and everything like this And again we’re trying to really get even better and better on tracking this you know from these cube satellites And with more and more sensors being able to be deployed it provides just a whole host of information It’s a game changer It totally is a game changer >> But you know with this game changing type of information coming in there’s a lot of data And so we really have to think about computer learning or computer vision and artificial intelligence We can use information for example from flukes and imagery from these satellites to look at the yellow pigments here the pigments here are in yellow to actually be able to tell not only species but an individual of the whale So we can tell a total individual there that’s going on from the data that we’re getting But again there’s there tends to be more and more data than one accumulates >> And if you really start getting you know lots and lots of data with the different types of pigments and individuals it becomes quite overwhelming So what we really have to do is, and what we’re working on, is trying to to manage as best we can all this data through artificial intelligence >> We’re not only doing this with with whales but we’re doing this with birds as well Where you can take an image and a computer can tell you what species of bird, if that bird’s an endangered species or whatever, but again you have to, the computer must learn So you have to get all the data and then to kind of teach the computer how to do this But you know this would you know a lot of the data we have so much of now I mean it would sometimes take, it would take an individual a decade to go through it if they could even stand doing it So we used to make graduate students do all that work but I think that’s even becoming unreasonable now because there’s so much So another area that’s really cutting edge that we’re working on is acoustics and this is really listening and understanding in real time about animals that are out there and listening to the sounds. We’re recording the sounds in the ocean from an acoustic recorder The data is sent via satellite The data’s been cleaned up by a computer, not a human. The computer then would identify the sounds and then finally the human’s involved. It goes to the human and then the analyst will verify these sounds and then a really interesting aspect to what we’re doing here is we’re sending this information out via text, email, web site, on whalealert.org So this this information is available to anyone Anyone also can go on here A fisherman can go on here if they spotted a right whale on the Atlantic and can also indicate latitude and longitude So this data is open source and just accumulates and more and more people and anybody can have access to it which really I mean there are challenges with lots and lots of data but it also tells us so we can learn so much with different information So while we’re listening to the animals you know and I think for many years we focused just on listening to the animals which is important but it’s also really important to hear

what else is going on out there Ship traffic, boats, earthquakes, any kind of natural sources We know that the ocean is an extremely noisy place and we want to make sure that we’re really understanding the acoustics So you know understanding what can we really learn from from this So we’ve started a project in partnership with NOAA among others And this is as it’s called ADEON the Atlantic Deepwater Ecosystem Observatory Network So what you see on the right here are just a whole host of recorders that we’ve deployed in the Atlantic Ocean to capture the entire soundscape that’s out there And so we’ve deployed these and we’re listening and we do hear lots of different things we hear animals but we also hear hear ships and different types of things but I thought that you might be most interested in listening to the animals So first we’ll listen to a dolphin Our bioacoustician when I talk to her about these things she always says think about these as musical notes and think about things that are coming across as whether it sounds to you like a song or an instrument or something like that Hence the little musical note up in the right right corner. Humpback So you can see when it turns white that the noise is, the calls are coming So again we’re picking up all these from these recorders that we went out there to do with our ADEON study. Minkes are kind of fun The big right whale My personal favorite just because I think they sound like they’re having just such a good time Pilot whales. Sounds like a party I’d like to join >> So acoustics. Understanding that is very important. Again I’m also understanding what’s really down in the deep deep ocean is also extremely important as well So what we’ve done here is a study called Deep Search and I’m gonna be talking a little bit about the human occupied vehicle here called the Alvin We also use remotely operated vehicles as well so some are just more just robots that go down But this particular human operated vehicle can carry a pilot and a couple of scientists, go down to around 4,500 meters collect different types of samples and video and photographs. It has two robot arms they can take different samples and the average dive time is about seven hours So you’re down there for a while if you want to go down and do this >> Here’s a video from the Alvin >> They really don’t move that fast we speed it up This is a discovery we made which was actually in the newspaper It is in the Atlantic We discovered eighty five linear miles of lophelia coral Most of this coral we found in deep deep water in the Gulf of Mexico We had thought that it was here in the Atlantic but we didn’t realize it was so abundant So they’re down you know first of all when the discovery happens and we discover something like this it’s very very exciting

And then of course you know you have to go down and take samples and photographs and everything else So with the Alvin on board and the pilot and the scientists that went down again you can you can take the photographs you can get the samples and put them in the Alvin everything and take all this information back up It’s actually a much longer video on our BOEM Web site if you’d like to see it, boem.gov/studies So next eDNA so environmental DNA another kind of cutting edge type of technique that we’re using So what is environmental DNA All living things have DNA all living things shed DNA eDNA is simply DNA that’s released from an organism like me or you or a fish into the environment, hence eDNA Where does it come from. It can come from our hair, our scales, it can come from poop, come from any kind of place like that Our reproductive cells anything that comes from the environment we can look at it and analyze it There’s a couple of different methods to this And historically we’ve looked at kind of the single species method which you can identify one species. In other words you get a sample from a water column and you can say you know an Atlantic sturgeon, that type of fish was there But what we’re really interested in is identifying multiple species And this is called metabarcoding And the idea behind this is you take a sample of water and you can analyze kind of this broad range of primers to understand everything that sits there everything that was in that water column So it could be fish, could be plants, could be anything that’s there and you can really understand kind of the the ecosystem of that using environmental DNA So it’s quite amazing One challenge is that you have to have an index to whatever you find, it has to be in an index in a library So for example we’re working with the Smithsonian Institute and the Natural History Museum We have been for nearly 50 years now We’ve got a very large invertebrate collection there we’ve discovered over 400 new species But what we’re really working on now is making sure that all the DNA is properly bar coded in their library So what we can do is when we get the eDNA samples we can match the read to that genetic reference library So we’re able to understand Again if it’s not in the library you don’t know what it is So it’s very very important to actually build this up So again if you’re just taking water samples it can cost much less So cost and speed for the methods are definitely an advantage here There are you know if you’re dealing with the eDNA excuse me, there you know you do have accuracy You do have repeatability it’s noninvasive sampling so you don’t have to collect an entire fish and you can just take the water whatever is in the water So that type of sampling is non-invasive so that’s important And also this is also multi trophic You can take water samples from different levels up and down the water column and you can look at the different trophic networks up and down and see how they may work together So it’s not only multi species it’s a multi trophic approach, really really work together well >> But it’s important to have a reality check >> Now when this when I first started reading about this I thought oh my goodness Now this is going to solve all my problems all of our challenges However it can, it can provide information on species presence can help target field sampling programs reduce sampling effort again to save money, it’s noninvasive like I mentioned but it cannot confirm absolute absence It cannot confirm for example that a right whale was never there A right whale could have swam through the day before and you just didn’t get the eDNA from it It can’t determine abundance, how many species were there, life stage or condition, it can’t determine those And again you know without the sequence library

you get nothing You get no readings. So So it’s very important again to have that laboratory But overall I do think that there are some really important applications for eDNA Actually for many years within the Environmental Studies Program and BOEM one really big challenge that we’ve had is monitoring. You know we’re supposed to monitor the ecosystem to look if there’s any kind of change or impact from the activities that we oversee Again oil and gas, marine minerals. and renewable energy But monitoring is very expensive We monitored the Flower Garden Banks in the Gulf of Mexico for nearly 50 years now They take ships and divers and other things like that to go out and monitor We’ve monitored the intertidal areas throughout California and the Pacific coast for about 40 years Now again that takes people to go out and do the sampling and the analysis We’ve monitored the bowhead whale migration up in the Arctic That takes aircraft and brave individuals to go out and and actually spot the whales So monitoring can have challenges so I’m really thinking that the eDNA applications will help us get a little closer to doing a better job monitoring not only with the anthropogenic activities such as fishing, aquaculture, or extraction of energy, or shipping but also just changes in the ecosystem, changes in just the conditions of the climate and other things So I think that you know what we’re doing here and I think again eDNA does offer quite a bit If we’re looking at certain things like tracking animals like I showed you earlier You know tracking animals with satellites or with acoustics along with eDNA makes a lot of sense. Passive acoustic monitoring where we’re just basically just listening for the animals out there It makes a lot of sense to also use eDNA. Active acoustics as well if we’re out there and our friends from USGS are doing mapping out there and also it is important to maybe take some eDNA samples at these little red spots under the active acoustic here, those are probably fish So you’re probably going to get samples of fish and the different type of species But what I really think is most important with regard to just protecting the oceans and protecting the Earth is to think about all these things together If you think about the technologies that we have you know as a nation as scientists and using those technologies to the fullest of their ability you know BOEM’s a very small agency So you know we don’t have satellites like NASA but we have friends in NASA and they have satellites so when we talk about you know some of our challenges with air quality with our friends from NASA they say oh hey let’s try to solve that problem If we’re looking at an area you know if we’re looking at acoustics and wanted to understand that more you know and we don’t have any big ships but NOAA does So we reach out to NOAA and we work with them on the ADEON study that I mentioned in the Atlantic and in acoustics and listening We’re also working with NOAA and USGS on eDNA as well So I think really what we’re talking about when we’re talking about the future of ocean science and BOEM and these emerging technologies is a combination of all these things that I’ve talked about because that’s where you get the robust analysis eDNA is great but it’s not a silver bullet. Acoustics tells you a lot But that’s not the only thing you need, you know that’s not the only information you need to make good decisions out there Satellite imagery and the cube satellites. Really cool stuff And we’re gonna continue to use them But again from space you’re not going to get the whole picture but together I think we do And in order for DOI to meet our stewardship responsibility in order for BOEM to do the job that we’re supposed to in our Outer Continental Shelf using these innovative technologies for the safe and sustainable development of America’s ocean energy and marine minerals is really critical because you know without science to inform our decisions we’re just guessing and there’s such a big ocean out there and there’s so many things to learn that you know

as we continue to use these emerging technologies and we work not only with other federal agencies but also the private sector we manage better and better. Just a closing quote, one that I like to use Louis Pasteur from 1863 You know we are a science program in Interior We are a science program in a regulatory agency And when I said at the first of this talk that our science is use-inspired I usually say use-inspired other than applied Because all of our science we use for decision making But this quote to me really kind of is the essence of what we do There’s not pure science and applied science but only science and the application of science I say this to my academic friends and the National Science Foundation often And that’s OK because they get it But really it’s the science that do inform our decisions And this is what’s so important for us to ensure that development activity on the Outer Continental Shelf whether that’s oil and gas, renewable energy, or marine minerals is sustainable Thank you [Applause]