Marine Ventures International, Inc. (MVI) provided endangered and threatened (E&T) species monitoring for the Terminal 3 Marine Works project in Port Canaveral, Brevard County, Florida from July through August 2019. 

Brevard County’s beaches stretch 72 miles and provide nesting sites for three main species of turtles:  greens, loggerheads, and leatherbacks.  Additionally, the turtles find Port Canaveral to be an apt location for feeding and traveling.  Manatees also travel regularly through the port facilities as they move from the Banana and Indian Rivers, located east of Port Canaveral, through the inlet (port vicinity) and out to the Atlantic Ocean.

Norfolk Dredging Company (NDC) was contracted by Rush Marine and the Canaveral Port Authority for improvements to Cruise Terminal 3.  Because of the common occurrence of both sea turtles and manatees, NDC was required to meet regional and federal permit requirements to minimize the probability of takes of these E&T species.  MVI conducted all E&T species monitoring as required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection permits. 

Observations for E&T species were conducted throughout the entire project duration, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.  Over each 24-hour period, a minimum of five Endangered Species Observers (ESOs) was onboard the mechanical clamshell dredge, Virginian, to keep vigilant watch of these vulnerable species.  During daytime operations, one ESO maintained a watch at all times. During nighttime dredging operations, three ESOs maintained watch, with a fourth ESO on rotation. The nighttime requirement was for two ESOs to keep watch near the mechanical activity of operations and an additional ESO to keep watch at a land position when operating within 200 feet of the shoreline.  NDC took a precautionary approach by adding a fourth ESO to the nighttime watch crew.

Throughout the 29-day project, there was a total of 373 E&T species sightings and an unprecedented 344 delays/shutdowns in operations due to the presence of these protected species.  Ninety-five percent of the delays and/or shutdowns were due to the presence of green sea turtles.  One juvenile green sea turtle frequently observed in the area resulted in 12 hours of delay during the first three days of the project.  The ESOs nicknamed this particular turtle Barney due to a distinctive barnacle on its carapace.  Norfolk complied with and supported the mitigation requirements for the E&T species despite the amount of lost production time.

There were no incidental takes of protected species and personnel safety was not compromised for the duration of operations. The project was successfully completed despite the numerous delays and shutdowns incurred by the E&T species.