Marine life mitigation - PSOs, MMOs and PAM

Mitigating the risks to marine mammals and other protected species is crucial for compliance in successful offshore wind, energy and seismic projects. RPS has deep expertise in delivering mitigation solutions, including Protected Species Observers (PSOs), also known as Marine Mammal Observers (MMOs), and Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM).

Over the last two decades we have provided multi-disciplined in-field environmental support to offshore developments and operations. In the US, we have supported industry activity since the very first protected species mitigation legislation. As of 2020, we have supported every developer in the US, providing services to 90% of the active leases, and we are currently delivering environmental services and planning expertise to support Australia’s first offshore wind project – Star of the South.

Loggerhead sea turtle basking at the surface

Henry Lewis

Onshore project management support

Every environmental programme is supported by a team of full-time, shore-based project managers during the early planning and throughout all phases of the operational stages, to deliver a consistent and reliable methodology in the field, and high-quality, standardised data collection and reporting procedures.

Our team have deep expertise in the environmental requirements of offshore survey operations. They have extensive experience in regulatory reporting for local regulatory agencies, and strong agency relationships to facilitate smooth project delivery. They are also subject matter experts with the compliance requirements of geological, geophysical, renewable and academic marine environmental programmes in all of the areas where our clients operate.

Protected Species Observers and Marine Mammal Observers

RPS deploys the world’s largest team of professional PSOs and MMOs with expertise in global regulatory requirements and industry best practice. Our observers are the most well-qualified and highly trained professionals in the industry. The majority of our observers are bi-lingual and operate regularly on a global basis. We combine expert guidance in monitoring, mitigation and reporting requirements in the survey planning phase with full-time project support to minimise potential operational downtime and decrease the risk of compliance incidents while maintaining the highest level of conservation standards.  

We are the world’s largest provider of PSO/MMOs, offering the largest complement of trained personnel globally. And as the offshore wind industry’s demand for qualified PSO/MMO support increases, we continue to invest in the recruitment and training of new candidates – building a large professional group of qualified, experienced and agency-certified teams to support our clients’ survey activities.

RPS in-field environmental support

Highly qualified, degreed professionals with strong backgrounds in the natural sciences

  • Expertly knowledgeable of current regulations
  • Worldwide experience, locally available in most countries or can be mobilised effectively
  • Knowledgeable technicians with expertise in operating the leading acoustic hardware and software
  • Effective communication skills with multi-tiered personnel
  • Industry-standard medical and safety certificates

Our passionate team of marine mitigation specialists doing what they do best

  • Henry Lewis - PSO North America

    The work we do offshore as PSO’s is vital in making sure that offshore projects have the smallest impact possible on protected species. In this photo I am photographing a loggerhead sea turtle basking at the surface.

    01 /06
    Henry Lewis photographing a loggerhead sea turtle

    Henry Lewis

  • Humpback whale - this photo was taken by PSO Maritza Martinez

    02 /06
    PSO Maritza Martinez, Humpback whale

    PSO Maritza Martinez

  • Karen Villegas, PSO North America

    In this photo Karen is using our “big-eye” binoculars - just some of the high tech equipment we use every day in our work.

    03 /06
    PSO Karen Villegas using “Big-eye” binoculars

    PSO Cesar Coronel

  • This beautiful photograph was taken by PSO Leti Lili

    04 /06

    PSO Leti Lili

  • Australian Fur Seals on Kanowna Island, Victoria

    05 /06
    Australian Fur Seals at Kanowa Island
  • Common short-nose dolphin, taken by PSO Daniele Durazo, offshore San Francisco

    06 /06
    PSO Daniela Durazo - Minerva - common short-nose dolphin

    PSO Daniela Durazo

Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM)

Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) systems are an effective tool for monitoring marine mammals. Acoustic systems can be deployed where visual coverage is compromised or where 24-hour monitoring is required. This is a useful, proven supplementary tool where visual surveys are insufficient.

RPS is a leader in providing the latest technologically advanced, field-tested PAM systems and expert in-house PAM Operators. We supply highly trained personnel and commercially robust in-field equipment for acoustic monitoring in a variety of applications, including energy, academia and renewables.

Sound Source Verification (SSVs)

We provide acoustic field verification / sound source verification measurement, analysis and reporting for projects around the world. We have performed AFV/SSVs for both vessels and survey equipment that produce sound, including air sound sources and HRG survey equipment sources. We have delivered analysis and reporting to verify distances to biologically significant received sound levels to establish exclusion zones, where our results have been submitted and approved by BOEM and NMFS (the US federal regulatory agencies that oversee renewable activity in the Atlantic).

RPS PAM operators are:

  • able to develop and implement new project equipment deployment strategies on a variety of vessel types
  • proficient in installing, operating, maintaining and troubleshooting systems
  • experienced with in-field testing of innovative PAM technology
  • skilled in numerous PAM software packages, including: PAMGuard, Spectrogram 16, IFAW Ishmael, etc.

We have also expanded our passive acoustic monitoring competencies to include remote PAM options. RPS has led the way in the development of remote Passive Acoustic Monitoring, including the deployment of satellite communication infrastructure to facilitate the real-time streaming of acoustic data directly from the area of operation to our remote monitoring center. RPS leads the discussion with relevant regulatory agencies to continue to make remote acoustic monitoring an option for our clients.

Click here to learn about our latest innovation, Neptune, our patented predictive algorithm for accurate and reliable detection of marine mammal vocalizations.

Remote Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) Satellite

Sounds of the sea

Star of the South, Victoria, Australia: This audio of humpback and dwarf minke whale calls was captured as part of our marine ecology survey program.

Dwarf minke whale

Permitting and proposal support for offshore monitoring systems

We support industry to test new technology offshore and to receive regulatory agency approval to utilise it.

Our experience includes gaining regulatory approval to implement remote acoustic monitoring technology in the US Gulf of Mexico – achieved through ongoing consultation with agencies, a robust survey test plan and detailed analysis and presentation of results.

We propose creative solutions to achieve monitoring and mitigation goals, minimising impacts to protected species and collecting data to assure regulatory agencies that their requirements will be met.


The Protected Species Observer team in the US are currently hiring for new members. They welcome both new and experienced candidates that are able to work in the United States. New candidates should have a biological science background and a sense of adventure! For more information, please contact 

You can also read more about life as a PSO in a series of interviews here.

“Our mission is absolute dedication to our clients and to the success of their operations. We are committed to responding to a growing need for science-based decision making on environmental issues for the energy related market. Through experience, innovation, and responsiveness we will ensure that our client’s environmental mitigation is conducted professionally and without interruption to operations or delays to project schedules, while maintaining the highest ethics and conservation standards”.  David O’Hara - Senior Vice President

David O'Hara, Senior Vice President, RPS

David O'Hara - Senior Vice President, RPS North America

Contact us

David O'Hara - Senior Vice President, RPS North America

David O'Hara

Senior Vice President T: +1 281 589 7257 Email
Houston - Dairy Ashford | US

Stephanie Milne

Senior Environmental Manager, US Offshore Renewables T: +1 281 589 7257 Email
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Boston | US
Tamara Al-Hashimi

Tamara Al-Hashimi

Technical Director - Marine Science T: +61 8 9211 1111 Email
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Perth - Subiaco | Australia

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