Sunday, April 3, 2011

OCC Presents at Living Shorelines

Last week Ed Gorleski ( and Ryan Artman ( of OCC attended the American Littoral Society's Living Shorelines Workshop at Monmouth University. The title of the conference was "Advancing Living Shorelines in New Jersey" and aimed to lay the foundation for developing a Living Shorelines program in New Jersey by demonstrating successful examples of these types of projects. Throughout the course of the day, presenters gave talks that ranged from the basics of Living Shorelines to specific project examples from North Carolina, Maryland and New Jersey. The focus of the discussions revolved around sharing challenges and lessons for implementing future Living Shoreline projects, evaluating and discussing regulatory complications to such projects, and producing recommendations for regulatory improvements that promote Living Shorelines. The day was ended with a state and federal agency representatives (NJDEP, USACE, NOAA, USFWS & NMFS) providing their perspectives on implementing a Living Shoreline program in NJ. 

What are Living Shorelines?

According to the Center for Coastal Resources Management, Living Shorelines, "address erosion in lower energy situations by providing long-term protection, restoration or enhancement of vegetated shoreline habitats through strategic placement of plants, stone, sand fill and other structural or organic materials. Living Shoreline Treatments do not include structures that sever the natural processes & connections between uplands and aquatic areas." The benefits of Living Shorelines include:

  • Reducing bank erosion and property loss to you or your neighbor
  • Providing an attractive natural appearance
  • Creating recreational use areas
  • Improving marine habitat & spawning areas
  • Allowing affordable construction costs
  • Improving water quality and clarity

OCC was invited to present at the conference and gave a talk entitled Southwest Mordecai Island Ecosystem Restoration Project - SWMER Phase I & II. The talk focused on the design process (several years worth) that OCC went through to implement the Mordecai Island project, challenges that we faced during the process and lessons learned in taking a Living Shoreline project from concept to construction. 

By the conclusion of the workshop, many good ideas were discussed to develop a strategy for implementing Living Shorelines in NJ. The next steps will be critical and include future meetings and workshops, developing a framework and standard for a successful project, and working with regulatory agencies to promote the concept of Living Shorelines.


For more information, please contact Ed at

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Erosion Control for Valuable Marsh Habitat

In the fall of 2010, OCC completed a shoreline protection project to reduce erosion and restore  approximately 570 linear feet of rapidly eroding marsh shoreline on Mordecai Island, a 45 acre uninhabited sedge island, west of Beach Haven (Long Beach Island), New Jersey. This project was the second phase of the South West Mordecai Ecosystem Restoration (SWMER) project.  Mordecai and its surrounding waters are within the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve (JCNERR) and are also listed as Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) for spawning and all life stages of Winter Flounder. It is similarly listed for its essential role in juvenile and adult stages of Atlantic Sea Herring, bluefish, Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass.

Location map for SWMER Phase II

Mordecai is also part of the “Barnegat Bay Complex” (Complex #6) and considered one of the “Significant Habitats and Habitat Complexes of the New York Bight” as designated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). It is very close to the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge and provides similar habitat to many fish, bird and plant species.  Mordecai serves as a strategically important nesting island for many New Jersey Threatened and Endangered Species and contains a large colony of nesting colonial waterbirds. Of particular significance is the approximately 50 pair of State Endangered Black Skimmers. Other State Endangered bird species observed on or near Mordecai include the American Bittern, the Least Tern and the Northern Harrier. State Threatened species include the Black-Crowned Night Heron and the Yellow-Crowned Night Heron.
Black Skimmers utilizing the valuable habitat on Mordecai Island.

SWMER Phase I was completed in the summer of 2006 and included the installation of biodegradable coir and jute biologs installed along the shoreline of Mordecai Island along with planting Spartina alternaflora in the biologs as well as on the landward, protected side of the biologs. Biologs were installed along the edge of the shoreline and secured with oak stakes along various lengths of shoreline. While the biologs installed on the eastern, protected shoreline remained intact, the biologs on the western, exposed shoreline, more susceptible to wind and wave erosion, did not last as long.

SWMER Phase II consisted of three components, which included 570 linear feet of 22-foot circumference, sand filled geotextile tubes along the south west portion of the island where erosion rates are the highest.  When filled, the tubes resulted in approximately 3.5 foot high sill ranging from 10 to 50 feet from the shoreline, and approximately 6 inches below the mean high water line.  The preliminary placement of the tubes was determined by performing a GIS analysis of the 1986 island shoreline and final placement approval was a joint effort between OCC, the client, Mordecai Land Trust, U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In addition to the geotextile tubes, 20-inch diameter premium quality biologs were installed behind the geotextile tubes.  The purpose of these additional biologs was to determine whether or not they would survive longer and function to protect shoreline, in the lee of the geotextile tubes.  The third and final component of the project were experimental coir biologs placed perpendicular to the shoreline along the southern section of shoreline to deflect currents between the island and the adjacent bulkhead.  The theory behind this element is that by reducing the currents along this section of the shoreline, erosion would also be reduced.

Aerial view of island including location of geotextile sill and current deflectors.

Cross section of geotextile tube sill.

The purpose of the tubes is to reduce wave action from boat wake and wind waves that attack this section of the island.  Below are photographs of the project, after the geotextile tubes were installed that show the tubes blocking wave energy before making contact with the shoreline. This project will continue to be monitored to not only determine if the tubes are reducing erosion, but if they are also encouraging any sediment accretion.  

Intial placement of the geotextile tubes.

Final layout of geotextile tube sill prior to commencement of sand filling.

Filled geotextile tube sill during the as-built survey.

Installation of 20-inch diameter, premium quality biologs on the lee side of the geotextile tube sill.

Installation of the coir biolog current deflectors.

Contractor photograph of geotextile tube sill in action. Notice the calm waters on the lee side of the tubes.

For more information please contact Ed Gorleski at

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Welcome to OCC - Ryan Artman

My name is Ryan Artman ( and I currently reside in Medford, NJ.  As a new employee, I have been consistently searching for ways to extend my reach into and contribute to the OCC community.  So, when Ed Gorleski approached me with the idea of writing a blog post, I jumped at the opportunity. 

After graduating from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey with a Bachelors of Science in Marine Biology I went to work for the NJ DEP; Bureau of Marine Fisheries.  This job appealed to my passion for working on and around the ocean.  I have always enjoyed the marine atmosphere and everything involved in it, so working for the Bureau of Marine Fisheries was a nice fit for me.

It wasn't long before I decided to pursue another passion of mine.  I had been involved in construction for many years, prior to and during my career with the NJDEP.  I started out framing homes in Ocean City, New Jersey, and had always felt comfortable and confident on the job site.  In an attempt to begin a career in construction, I started working as a project manager for Reilly Construction, Inc.  out of Trenton, NJ.

Finally, the opportunity presented itself to combine my two passions in one job, Ocean and Coastal Consultants.  Since arriving at OCC, the entire staff has been unbelievably supportive and welcoming.  I have enjoyed coming to work everyday, not only because of the people here, but also because of the challenges and diversity of the work load.  During the past two months, I have been involved with numerous projects, each one being entirely unique and affording me the possibility to grow as an employee and an individual.

My experience with GIS has proved to be invaluable, as it has turned out to be an effective and efficient way for me to assist with as many projects as possible.  I have always been passionate about the ocean and coastal living as well as construction, so for me, to be able to combine my passions with a career has been immensely rewarding. 

I look forward to many years of contributing to a company that has provided me the opportunity to enjoy what I do. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Video Update: OCC Conducts Diving Observations of Historic USS Becuna

During the October 27 and 28, 2010 OCC survey of the USS Becuna's hull  Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia, PA., Mr. Bill Bustard was kind enough to take this video and provide us a copy!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Human Side of OCC

With the Holiday Season upon us, I am very happy to post this guest blog by one of OCC's most dedicated employees.  Below was written by Alyson Witkowski, feel free to contact her at

OCC, bolstered by the support of COWI Denmark, is steadily proving itself to be a foremost authority in coastal and waterfront engineering, while building a strong name for itself in wind energy. 

The driving force behind OCC’s successes, however, is its employees.  These employees, who work everyday in a mutually-beneficial synergy with COWI and our clients, have made a lasting impression on countless people.  They work diligently to provide the best services possible, while continuously learning and innovating in their chosen field.
Aftermath of the fire - interior

Beyond our employees' many contributions to the business world, they should also be recognized for the inter-personal relationships that have been forged, not only with clients, but with co-workers as well.  

One personal example of the bonds that tie us is the loss of my home in January 2010 to a building fire.  In the wake of losing everything right after the holiday season, OCC and its employees sprang into action.  In the first two days of the fire's aftermath, OCC generously donated a large gift card to my family to help provide us with immediate necessities including warm clothing, food, toiletries, etc.  One week later, OCC employees took it upon themselves to collect money and items, and were able to gift us with enough money to afford me the opportunity to buy a new bedroom for my young children, ready for when we were able to find a new home.  During that time and for months afterwards, OCC employees and clients showed their concern, their caring spirit and their grace with countless phone calls, emails, cards and donations that helped my family rebuild the life that we had known before the fire.

Aftermath of the fire - exterior

At this time of the year, during this season, I am reminded not of things lost or hardships overcome, but of spirit.  The spirit of generosity and selflessness at OCC is second to none.  For that, I am eternally thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving… and the warmest holiday wishes this season.

Monday, November 22, 2010

OCC Conducts Diving Observations of Historic USS Becuna

On October 27 and 28, 2010, Ocean and Coastal Consultants, Inc. (OCC) performed a survey of the USS Becuna's hull and adjacent port side timber dolphins at the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia, PA. The USS Becuna (SS/AGSS-319), a 66 year old BALAO-class submarine, is also a National Historic Landmark.  Launched on January 30, 1944, the USS Becuna currently measures 307.6 feet long by 27.3 feet beam and draws a 17 feet draft with 1,830 tons displaced when surfaced.  The USS Becuna was decommissioned on November 7, 1969 and has since had through-hull blanking plates installed upon all flooding and utility holes located throughout the hull.  The dive planes and rudder have been permanently fixed in position, and the forward and aft torpedo doors have all been permanently shut.

OCC performed an underwater video survey of the submarine dive plane, rudder and hull with representative ultrasonic thicknesses (UT) measurements of the blanking plates.  A survey was also completed of the two adjacent timber pile dolphins.  Inspection diving operations were conducted using a 3-man crew of engineer-divers with surface-supplied air diving equipment and continuous communications and video staged from a large van located on the adjacent relieving platform.

OCC continues to use its expertise in surveys and underwater inspections to prove itself as a valuable resource in the maritime industry.  OCC is looking forward to being a part of many new and exciting underwater projects coming up in 2011!

For more information, please contact Ronnie Munoz, EIT at

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Travel Update - Doug in Guyana!

When you think of business travel, you often think of flying business class, arriving in a glamorous city, sitting in meetings with a glass boardroom table and eating gourmet food.  The reality is flying economy and sitting in airports, arriving in a developing country on your own, trying to figure out where you are and how to get where you're going, struggling with inconsistent Internet and eating food that you know will make you sick!

So why do I do it? Why do I love to travel and experience new places?  First of all, the work is really interesting.  You are often faced with complex problems that your fresh perspective can solve, or maybe it's a new problem for the locals that you have solved before.  For example, Guyana's shoreline has very little sand.  It's mostly mud from the Amazon that flows in waves from east to west.  All of our numerical models and coastal engineering equations are based on sand.  So you really have to dig deep and understand the system from a whole new perspective.

The second reason I love to travel is meeting new people.  People are the same everywhere, with the same dreams and aspirations.  Some people work hard, others are lazy, and government employees have the same complaints whether it's the U.S. or a third world country.  Meeting people and seeing their living conditions renew my appreciation for life in the U.S., if not a little guilty for our excessive consumption and materialism.  I've met people who are very happy with a simpler life and find joy in sharing what they have.

It's surprising to me that we in the U.S. know very little about Guyana.  It is the only English speaking country in South America, and they have the lowest per capita income.  When I ask my taxi driver in the morning how he is, his answer is always "tryin'" It's a beautiful country once you're outside of the capital city Georgetown.  Just a few miles up the Essequibo River life is still wild.  The houses are elevated to keep snakes and jaguars out.  People beat the river water with sticks before swimming to chase the stingrays away.  Keiteur Falls is one of those Amazonian waterfalls that you only see in movies with a 714 foot drop.  And there is a tiny, poisonous, golden yellow frog that only lives at Keiteur in the leaves of a specific giant bromyliade.

So that's why I accept the hardships of business travel, and, every now and then I do get to go to paradise!