Since July 2020, Azura has been providing Protected Species Observer (PSO) program management services to Saltwater Inc. in support of the P-834 Seawolf Class Service Pier Extension project at the Naval Base Kitsap, Bangor, Washington.
In accordance with the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act requirements for construction projects, Saltwater’s PSOs are monitoring for marine mammals and the threatened marbled murrelet during pile-driving activities. The PSOs are tracking authorized takes of killer whales (transients only), harbor porpoises, California sea lions, Steller sea lions, and harbor seals. The latter species has proven to be a particularly exciting and challenging part of this project.
Our PSO team has individually identified at least 8 harbor seals (4 pups and 4 adults) that frequent the project area and have become habituated to the in-water construction work. Three of the pups are seen in the project area on almost a daily basis. In response to the pile-driving activity, two of the pups and all of the adults have exhibited behavioral reactions, including startled responses and fast swimming away from the activity. The Navy has requested additional harbor seal takes to account for these habituated individuals. Monitoring during this first work season is expected to end on or before January 15, 2021.