Right Whale Paper Published
A paper by GMI marine scientists Amy Whitt, Kathleen Dudzinski, and Jennifer Laliberté has been published in the journal Endangered Species Research. The authors summarize right whale sightings and acoustic data collected from the first year-round study dedicated to marine mammals in New Jersey’s nearshore waters.
Cultural Resources TxDOT Win
The Cultural Resources group of the GMI Environmental Services Division was awarded an Archeological General Services contract by the Texas Department of Transportation in February. One of four awardees, GMI will be involved in archeological survey, test excavations for National Register eligibility determinations, and data recovery projects across the state of Texas.
Biological Inventory Study for Melrose AFR
GMI wildlife biologists, in conjunction with Cannon AFB and Melrose AFR, initiated surveys for a Biological Inventory Study of a 10,968 acre area of land gifted to Melrose AFR by the state of New Mexico.
GMI to Support Fishermen's Energy with Environmental Impact Efforts
As part of the Energy Department's broader efforts to launch an offshore wind industry in the United States, GMI will support the Fishermen's Energy team with R&D for the advancement of traditional thermal and video imaging systems related to the assessment of nocturnal animal (bird, bat) occurrence, strikes and behavior around offshore wind turbines.
GMI Researchers Contribute to Texas Archaeological Literature
Nancy Kenmotsu is a co-editor and author of a new book published by Texas A&M University Press: The Toyah Phase of Central Texas: Late Prehistoric Economic and Social Processes. The volume is about the hunter-gatherers living in central Texas from AD 1300 – 1700.
Estabrook Heads Cultural Resources Dept.
Following 20+ years working as a Project/Program Manager for several of the largest cultural resources firms in Florida, Rich Estabrook has joined GMI as Cultural Resources Program Manager in the Plano corporate office.
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.
GMI’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, GMI 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.
GMI’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 GMI 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, GMI 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, GMI 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.
GMI 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.