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Quality Data: A Catalyst for Sustainable Ocean Exploration
RV Dolphin, the 49-foot field operations vessel part of CSA's fleet, can complete nearshore and offshore missions to obtain various types of oceanic data. (Photo credit: CSA)

What is one thing every ocean exploration project has in common? Data acquisition, in all its many forms; site notes, survey numbers, sensor measurements, historical records. Once processed and analyzed, this accumulated information helps scientists and ocean stakeholders make scientifically robust and data-informed decisions about the project in hand.

With more weight on data-led decisions, so comes the responsibility for survey providers to produce quality data—comprehensive, verifiable, and useful. It was with this commitment to data integrity that CSA Ocean Sciences (CSA) opened its doors in 1970 and has evolved to become one of the industry’s leading marine environmental consulting firms. CSA operations span worldwide, specializing in the design and execution of multidisciplinary marine science projects for a broad range of clients—almost 700 over the last five decades—that bridge the various industries in the ocean sector. Through the diligent use of detailed quality assurance and quality control (QAQC) procedures, CSA personnel are enviably experienced in collecting, validating, and verifying ocean exploration data.

A Suite of Data Services

The CSA approach to applied marine science is underwritten by the firm’s pledge to a trilogy of ongoing investments in cutting-edge technology, operational excellence, and an employee-wide guarantee to letting quality marine data guide scientific enquiry.

From start to finish, CSA teams ensure that equipment is calibrated correctly and that measurements can be repeatable—good data, unsurprisingly, starts with good planning and thorough preparation. In the field, strict procedures are followed when deploying tools like water samplers, CTDs, and sonars when exploring the ocean. Excellence in the field has become a hallmark of CSA’s survey practices and one of the key reasons that we have managed to establish, grow, and maintain long-term contracts with so many different clients, both from the public and private sectors. But our commitment to first-rate turnkey services doesn’t end there.

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CSA's scientists processing raw data in real time to accomodate for any required adjustments to survey lines. (Photo credit: CSA)

In addition to sound field sampling processes, we are also in a position to leverage our extensive data toolbox designed specifically for refining geospatial data acquisition, processing, and analysis. With industry-leading data service capabilities and learned professional experience, CSA creates robust and accurate data sets capable of supporting precise models.

As part of CSA’s data management capacity, our Environmental Data and Geospatial Services (EDGS) team offers a range of solutions for sharing, visualizing, and translating critical marine environmental data into web-based maps that key decision makers and influencers—conservation managers, researchers, and regulators, etc.—can use to plan, assess, and mitigate and offshore activities relating to ocean resources.

Investments in Tech Hardware

Outside of our comprehensive geospatial data services, at CSA we believe that informed and responsible ocean exploration calls for constant technical innovation in the field. To this end, in recent years the firm has invested in several breakthrough technologies that help harvest better data—better information—from often difficult-to-access waters. Performance of video analysis is just one example of how CSA can turn raw visual data into a more intuitive resource for a broad range of stakeholders.

We use a variety of remotely operable platforms to capture video data, above and below the waterline, Increasingly, we see the use of autonomous vehicles as the most efficient, carbon conscious, and environmentally sound means of executing surveys.

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CSA's fleet of survey vessels, ranging from ocea going research vessels to people-portable uncrewed surface vehicles are outfitted with a range of oceanic equipment and instrumentation. (Photo credit: CSA)

Our current line-up of intelligent robotic systems comprises a growing suite of fully integrated uncrewed surface vehicles and, perhaps just as importantly, a team of highly skilled and seasoned operators. From video capture, CSA can perform image classification—to determine what an object is—that will allow project and conservation managers to better survey a marine habitat for resources, species count, or potential problems. Applications for CSA’s video analysis include habitat mapping (i.e., reef or seagrass), pollution tracking, and other various purposes.

Sound Data in Sound Decisions Out

Robust, defensible data are the backbone of any science, and ocean science is no exception. Without rigorous quality control that includes verification (e.g., following defined practices) and validation (meets client requirement), flawed knowledge will propagate, sometimes leading to spectacular lapses in often sensitive decision-making.

One thing that the ocean community can agree on is that as the current decade progresses—the proclaimed Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development—we expect greater emphasis and scrutiny on the regulatory processes that govern offshore exploration. For ocean survey, that means a heightened focus on the suitable practices and processes for obtaining ocean data. Whether a data set is seabed bathymetry, surveying of ocean resources, or habitat population counts, it will be used to inform and improve applied marine science models capable of answering questions raised about unknown ocean phenomena.

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This feature appeared in Environment, Coastal, & Offshore (ECO) Magazine’s 2023 Spring edition, to read more about Sustainable Ocean Exploration access the magazine here.

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Corporate Headquarters

8502 SW Kansas Ave.
Stuart, FL 34997