OSU’s Marine Mammal Institute to develop wildlife distribution models for wind energy efforts


Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute has been awarded a $2 million grant to collect data about distribution and density of marine mammals and seabirds that will be used to inform decisions about offshore wind energy development.

The grant is one of four announced this month by the U.S. Department of Energy to support wind energy research. The surveys of seabirds, whales, dolphins and porpoises will allow Oregon State’s scientific team to develop species distribution models. These will be used to construct density and distribution maps of the species surveyed.

Marine Mammal Institute Director Lisa T. Ballance is the lead investigator on the project, which includes visual and acoustic surveys in a region of the west coast from Cape Mendocino, California, to the mouth of the Columbia River on the Oregon/Washington border and west to the continental slope.

“We are excited about this opportunity,” Ballance said. “This funding will support strong basic science that will undoubtedly lead to new discoveries. Equally important, our science will be used to inform the wind energy industry.”

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