Ocean Science

BOEM develops, conducts and oversees world-class scientific research to inform its policy decisions. By using science, regulatory frameworks and input from others, the bureau considers the potential for BOEM activities to impact the ocean’s physical characteristics, biological resources and marine or coastal uses that are important to the environment and society.

Ward Cove in southeastern Alaska

A Third Way of Drilling

Understanding down-the-hole (DTH) piling sounds and their potential effects on marine life is essential for BOEM to conduct environmental impact assessments and explore mitigation measures to reduce impacts should DTH pilling techniques be used for offshore wind facility construction. Dr. Shane Guan, a BOEM oceanographer who specializes in underwater acoustics, recently published a paper the examines the sounds and potential impacts of DTH pile drilling.

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Atlantic Sturgeon

Tale of Two Fish

During dredge operations, BOEM receives and shares data on various species, including Atlantic sturgeon, to help resource managers better understand how, where and when these protected species move throughout the ocean.

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marinecadastre screen shot

MarineCadastre.gov – Still Growing After 15 Years

Developed in a cooperative effort between BOEM and NOAA, MarineCadastre.gov is an online interactive map viewer that integrates coastal, oceans, and great lakes information in a common reference framework. It supports a wide array of ocean user and regulators by adding new and updated data and services.

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Aerial Imagery

BOEM and USFWS Partner on Marine Wildlife Aerial Surveys

As energy development increases along the Atlantic Coast and across the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), BOEM needs robust species and site-specific information on the seasonal distribution and abundance of marine species – including seabirds, marine mammals and turtles – that could be affected by offshore energy activities.

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air quality and meteorological monitoring station

BOEM Partners with Louisiana High School to Monitor Air Quality Study Station

Environmental oversight in the Gulf of Mexico is an essential part of BOEM’s mission, and the collection of air quality and weather data near areas where offshore oil and gas activities are taking place is an important aspect of this effort. This data helps scientists assess the impact of pollutants from offshore development on regional air quality.

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Turtle Tracker

How Loud is Too Loud?

Protecting the environment while ensuring the safe development of offshore energy is a critical part of BOEM’s mission. Sea turtles are endangered species and a sentinel species for the effects of climate change. Loud underwater activities, such as seismic surveys or pile driving for renewable energy installations, could be harmful to these protected animals. BOEM wants to understand how the activities it permits impact these species so it can make informed, science-based decisions. Consequently, the bureau is collaborating with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, North Carolina State and Duke Universities in the U.S. and with sea turtle researchers in Dominica to measure sea turtle hearing to help fill in data gaps about the species’ hearing sensitivity.

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BOEM Partners with NASA on Air Quality

Under the Clean Air Act, BOEM has jurisdiction to monitor and enforce air quality requirements in federal waters in the Central and Western Gulf of Mexico. Most physical air quality monitors do not fare well long term when used in the marine environment – they can rust, corrode and become contaminated. Consequently, BOEM partnered with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to test the feasibility of using satellites to measure air quality pollutants in federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico.

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whale with mouthful of sand lances

Little Fish, Big Impacts

BOEM provides sand to coastal communities to restore and protect coastal areas affected by storms of increasing frequency and power. Making sand from the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) available to coastal communities helps them improve their resiliency in the face of climate change. The sand that BOEM provides communities comes from the seafloor on the OCS. It is often the same sand preferred by a tiny fish that humans and animals greatly depend on – the slender, silvery sand lance.

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Lophelia colony. Image courtesy of Brooke et al. 2005, NOAA-OER Florida Deep Corals.

On a Deep SEARCH for Science

Since 2017, the Deep Sea Exploration to Advance Research on Coral/Canyon/Cold seep Habitats (Deep SEARCH) study has explored the deep-sea ecosystems of the U.S. Mid- and South Atlantic. Deep SEARCH’s primary goal is to help BOEM better understand and predict the location of various seafloor communities off the U.S. southeastern coast that may be vulnerable to disturbance from resource development activities.

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