BOEM Hires Crowdsourcing Company to Learn About Sea Turtles Captured and Relocated in Ocean Dredging Projects | New
WASHINGTON DC – The Federal Office of Ocean Energy Management and a private company are partnering in a crowdsourcing effort to better understand and hopefully improve the success of relocating sea turtles captured during protective trawling efforts during offshore dredging operations, which in Carteret County are commonly associated with Bogue Banks Beach Replenishment Projects.
According to a Monday press release, HeroX, a leading platform and open marketplace for crowdsourced solutions, launched the effort, called “Better Call Trawl.”
The competition invites data scientists and engineers, statisticians and scientists to analyze Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) data, assess the effectiveness of current sea turtle relocation trawling practices, and develop a tool analytics that can help improve future protection efforts. The challenge will award up to $40,000 in prizes for the best solutions.
In the Carteret County beach nourishment projects, a trawler or trawlers are used ahead of dredging vessels that pick up sand from a site off Atlantic Beach and place it on the beaches. The federal government requires this effort to protect threatened and endangered sea turtles and can halt projects if too many turtles are endangered or killed.
BOEM is responsible for managing the country’s offshore energy and mineral resources in an environmentally responsible manner.
According to the press release, the BOEM Office is helping to combat the continued erosion of U.S. beaches by authorizing dredging in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) to collect sand from the ocean floor for coastal restoration and replenishment. beaches.
“However,” the statement said, “sea turtles near the seabed are at risk of being caught in these dredges and injured, often fatally. To reduce the risk to these federally protected species, specialized trawlers are engaged to capture and safely move turtles away from areas before and during dredging operations.
However, the statement adds, little is known about the effectiveness of current relocation efforts in preventing harm to sea turtles and what opportunities for improvement may exist.
“BOEM is committed to mitigating beach erosion by allowing the use of OCS sand for coastal restoration and beach replenishment projects, but we must consider and balance the risk to sea turtle species protected by the federal government in our decisions,” said Doug Piatkowski, BOEM marine biologist. .
“While we don’t know how effective sea turtle relocation during dredging operations is, we are swimming in data. We seek a new perspective on our existing data that can inform and improve ways to protect these threatened and endangered species.
Participants in the effort are tasked with developing an analytical tool that will leverage BOEM data, such as sea turtle movement, behavior, trawl catch data, and additional oceanographic data to assess and improve trawling efficiency. relocation of sea turtles during the dredging process.
The questions BOEM wants to answer include:
O How many at-risk sea turtles does relocation trawling actually catch and displace?
O How many non-threatened sea turtles are captured and moved?
O How does the effectiveness of relocation trawling (at-risk sea turtles/non-at-risk sea turtles caught) change over the dredging period? Throughout the year? With different weather conditions?
O What additional data could be collected to build your confidence in the findings?
Up to six winners can be selected to share the total prize money of up to $40,000. The grand prize winner will receive $15,000.
“With the right data, BOEM will be able to inform trawling relocation guidelines and future dredging-related research directions,” HeroX CEO Kal Sahota said in the press release. “Having an analytical system in place can help the office minimize harm to the sea turtle population and leverage these findings to address other environmental issues affecting the world’s oceans.
According to the release, HeroX is a platform and open marketplace for crowdsourced innovation and human ingenuity, co-founded in 2013 by entrepreneur Christian Cotichini and XPRIZE founder and futurist Peter Diamandis.