Integrated instrumentation packages are an attractive option for environmental and ecological monitoring at marine energy sites, as they can support a range of sensors in a form factor compact enough for the operational constraints posed by energetic waves and currents. Here we present details of the architecture and performance for one such system—the Adaptable Monitoring Package—which supports active acoustic, passive acoustic, and optical sensing to quantify the physical environment and animal presence at marine energy sites. We describe cabled and autonomous deployments and contrast the relatively limited system capabilities in an autonomous operating mode with more expansive capabilities, including real-time data processing, afforded by shore power or in situ power harvesting from waves. Across these deployments, we describe sensor performance, outcomes for biological target classification algorithms using data from multibeam sonars and optical cameras, and the effectiveness of measures to limit biofouling and corrosion. On the basis of these experiences, we discuss the demonstrated requirements for integrated instrumentation, possible operational concepts for monitoring the environmental and ecological effects of marine energy converters using such systems, and the engineering trade-offs inherent in their development. Overall, we find that integrated instrumentation can provide powerful capabilities for observing rare events, managing the volume of data collected, and mitigating potential bias to marine animal behavior. These capabilities may be as relevant to the broader oceanographic community as they are to the emerging marine energy sector.
This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Interactions of Marine Renewable Energy Installations