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Benthic Habitat Mapping for the National Park Service, St. Croix, USVI


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Objectives

The overall goal of this project is to acquire and produce critical baseline benthic habitat information for the Buck Island Reef National Monument (BUIS) and/or Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Reserve (SARI), St Croix, USVI. The primary objective is to develop and deliver the first fine-scale topographic map of the shallow-waters of BUIS and SARI; the secondary objective is to produce an integrated, synoptic shallow-to-deep water map, to the extent of the MPA boundaries.

Figure 1: Map of proposed study areas for Buck Island Reef National Monument (BUIS - green hatched area) and Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Reserve (SARI - yellow hatched area).
Figure 1: Map of proposed study areas for Buck Island Reef National Monument (BUIS - green hatched area) and Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Reserve (SARI - yellow hatched area).

Project Summary

NOAA and the National Park Service (NPS) have collaboratively conducted extensive habitat mapping and biological monitoring within and outside BUIS and SARI; however, funding and vessel access has never afforded the opportunity to conduct a complete bathymetric and seafloor characterization within the NPS’ marine protected areas (MPAs). NOAA’s Biogeographic Branch proposes to conduct small boat operations using acoustic systems which are ideally suited to mapping the remaining shallow areas, to produce an integrated, shallow-to-deep water, bathymetric and habitat map, within the MPAs. NOAA proposes to produce and provide: 1) a digital and web-based synoptic map of the two study area; 2) all raw and derived morphometric products; 3) access to all optical imagery collected, and 4) a synthesis report.

Providing the first fine scale topographic map of the shallow-waters of BUIS and SARI is the primary objective of this effort. The second objective is to produce an integrated synoptic shallow-to-deep water map, to the extent of the MPA boundaries. The methods used for this project are currently being implemented for the project NOAA is conducting for the National Park Service in St. John, USVI. The objectives are scalable to include BUIS and/or SARI mapping.

Below are the major activities of this project:

Work Plan Development: NOAA will develop a work plan in consultation with NPS to describe the overall project and serve as a blueprint for implementation.  A Project Scoping Meeting between NPS and NOAA will refine objectives, tasks, milestones, technical strategy, and deliverable products in the work plan. The NOAA team will meet with NPS Managers to design and develop a spatial framework design meeting their informational requirements.

Data Acquisition: NOAA proposes to conduct acoustic surveys using a pole-mounted  bathymetric sidescan system (Teledyne Benthos C3D) deployed off a NPS monitoring vessel). NOAA will provide a turn-key acoustic system, two data acquisition operators, and one coxswain. Data will target International Hydrographic Standards Order 1. A two-week data acquisition for BUIS and one-week mission for SARI is proposed to collect the necessary data.

Sidescan Post-Processing: Once the data has been acquired, NOAA will post-process the bathymetric and sidescan imagery, and produce derivative morphometrics suitable for mapping and spatial modeling (i.e. rugosity, fractals, slope of the slope). A summary report of the data acquisition and data processing will be produced. See attached 1-pager on the acoustic mapping approach.

Optical Validation:  NOAA will conduct optical imaging of the seafloor habitats using NOAA drop camera systems aboard the NPS Osprey vessel. A two week mission is proposed to collect sufficient groundtruthing and accuracy assessment data to satisfactorily produce a habitat map and independently verify the thematic accuracy of the resulting map product.

Benthic Habitat Map Production:  NOAA will produce a fine-scale benthic habitat map using the acoustic data collected with the bathymetric sidescan, and to the full extent of the multibeam acoustic data.

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Time Frame

Spring 2009 - through September 2011

For More Information

Project Manager:
1305 East West Highway
SSMC-IV, N/SCI-1
Silver Spring, MD 20910
301-713-3028 ext 171



1305 East West Highway
SSMC-IV, N/SCI-1
Silver Spring, MD 20910
301-713-3028 ext 160



1305 East West Highway
SSMC-IV, N/SCI-1
Silver Spring, MD 20910
301-713-3028