Versar, Inc. Acquires Geo-Marine, Inc.
Versar, Inc. (NYSE MKT: VSR) has acquired Geo-Marine, Inc., a business with more than $20 million in annual revenues. The purchase price was paid with a combination of cash and seller notes. Geo-Marine, headquartered in Plano, Texas, provides engineering design, construction management, environmental planning and programming, and other services in support of a wide range of government, industry, and commercial clients.
Acoustic monitoring relates to the recording or documentation of sounds, which can be biological, anthropogenic, or ambient in source. Acoustic monitoring can provide information on species distribution and habitat use as well as anthropogenic impacts, especially to marine mammals.
VersarGMI’s professional acoustics team has hands-on experience conducting passive acoustic surveys of biological (bioacoustics) and anthropogenic activities as well as ambient noise mapping. When it comes to sound, we have experience and capability working with state-of-the-industry technology and software. Through small- and large-scale surveys, noise monitoring, and impact assessment, VersarGMI can assist clients with their acoustic needs.
Our strengths include:
Passive Acoustic Monitoring
PAM offers the opportunity to document acoustic activity – from both biologic and anthropogenic, or human-made, sources – in an identified study area. Passive acoustic gear can be deployed for several days to several months with minimum human intervention, except when data are ready to be retrieved and analyzed. PAM is a technique that has the potential of satisfying a diverse number of objectives.
Purposes of PAM application in marine mammal studies include:
- Detection of marine mammal calls
- Tracking group or species movement patterns
- Triangulating location
- Habitat use (diurnal or seasonal, annual activity)
- Effects of noise on animal communication
- Mitigation tool (seismic surveys, marine construction, and anthropogenic noise assessment)
- Abundance and density estimates for select species
Sound Pressure Level Monitoring
SPL monitoring is a technique used to specifically monitor noise levels, which are generally associated with activities that increase sound levels in water, such as marine construction and seismic surveys.
VersarGMI’s has experience using state-of-the-industry technology for monitoring noise levels associated with marine construction. Using an SPL meter, one can monitor the source level of a given activity and, with knowledge of sound propagation in water, then model the distance this elevated level will travel. From this information, potential effects on local species can be predicted. SPL monitoring can ensure that federal regulations, such as the Marine Mammal Protection Act, are upheld.
The National Park Service contracted VersarGMI to conduct marine mammal and acoustic regulatory mitigation monitoring during demolition and reconstruction of a new pier in Bechers Bay, Santa Rosa Island. Working in coordination with NPS and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration experts, VersarGMI designed and implemented monitoring protocols, and was responsible for the management, interpretation, validation, and analysis of all data.
In cooperation with NPS personnel and representatives of the construction crew, VersarGMI marine scientists monitored for potential marine mammal presence in an identified acoustic exclusion zone before (baseline) and during, hydraulic vibratory pile extraction and pile drilling operations.
Real-time sound pressure levels, related to construction activities, were acquired using state-of-the-industry acoustic equipment. Utilizing sound propagation principles for the marine environment, SPLs at the noise source were calculated to determine exclusion zone boundaries (all regions where noise levels were or exceeded 160 dB re 1 µPa [rms]). Additionally, ambient noise data were collected of the project area and a noise map was created to allow for comparison of noise levels between pre-construction, construction, and post-construction phases.
Marine mammal occurrence both within and outside the acoustically established exclusion zone was visually monitored during all pile extraction and drilling activity. Marine mammals sighted within the exclusion zone resulted in an immediate recommendation to shutdown extraction or drilling activities until the area was clear of marine mammals for a predetermined length of time.
VersarGMI was contracted by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to conduct an ecological baseline study in nearshore waters off New Jersey to determine the current distribution, abundance, and usage of this area by marine and avian resources. We conducted shipboard and aerial surveys for marine mammals, sea turtles, and birds; passive acoustic monitoring for marine mammals; and additional radar studies for avian resources. We modeled survey data to provide density/abundance estimates and predictive habitat spatial layers for these marine resources. We also conducted a literature review of all marine resources, habitat, and important areas within this region (e.g., oceanography, fishes, fisheries, shipping lanes, etc.). We used the digital spatial and temporal data on the various resources and habitat in this region to develop an environmental sensitivity index to visually summarize the overlapping resources and depict areas that may be more or less suitable for development. We also assessed the potential impacts associated with offshore wind development in this region. The data obtained during this study provide the baseline of resources which will be critical in the future development of environmental compliance documentation required for development of offshore renewable energy sites.
The final report of this study is available at http://www.state.nj.us/dep/dsr/ocean-wind/report.htm.