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Seafloor Characterization of the U.S. Caribbean


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Objectives

The primary objective of the seafloor mapping project is to integrate abiotic data collected from acoustic sonar systems with biotic information obtained from underwater imagery systems to create accurate benthic habitat maps. Other project objectives are to: conduct applied research to develop data acquisition standards, signal processing techniques, mapping and sampling design protocols; and, to evaluate the utility of the new technologies.

Seafloor characterization project areas in the U.S. Caribbean (2004-2008)

Project Summary

The primary objective of the seafloor mapping project is to integrate abiotic data collected from acoustic sonar systems with biotic information obtained from underwater imagery systems (Remotely and Autonomously Operated Vehicles and Drop/drift camera systems) and SCUBA dives to create accurate benthic habitat maps. Other project objectives are to conduct applied research to develop data acquisition standards, signal processing techniques, mapping and sampling design protocols, and to evaluate the utility of the new technologies. The mission’s intended outcome is a more complete understanding of the marine resources within the surveyed areas, information that will ultimately contribute to the development of detailed species utilization models linking physical habitats and biological information. Priority mapping areas are currewntly in the U.S Caribbean. include the National Park Service’s (NPS) Buck Island Reef and Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monuments, Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Reserve, the fish spawning aggregation site at Grammanik Bank south of St. Thomas, the La Parguera area of southwest Puerto Rico, and areas closed to fishing by the Caribbean Fishery Management Council (CFMC) on the west side of Puerto Rico (Tourmaline Bank, Abrir La Sierra Bank, and Bajo De Cico), and Mona Island. The Biogeography Branch’s efforts to map moderate to deep water habitats of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico will also support other Biogeography Branch projects by quantifying habitat affinities for important marine fish species and defining their spatial and temporal utilization patterns across habitats.

The U.S. Caribbean benthic habitat characterization effort is intended to embody the principles of Integrated Ocean Coastal Mapping (IOCM) by integrating diverse mapping needs and goals into the project framework. Personnel and resources were drawn from multiple NOAA offices, as well as from the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping/Joint Hydrographic Center, U.S. Geological Survey, National Park Service, local resource management agencies, and academic partners throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Correspondingly, the resulting data products will be suitable for and made available to a wide variety of end-users, including project partners, NPS resource managers, the CFMC, Biogeography Branch research scientists, and researchers involved in testing and development of the new technology. There is also the potential for selective use of the data products in updating NOAA nautical charts and NOAA Tsunami Inundation Modeling projects. In addition, the mission will help NOAA meet its U.S. Coral Reef Task Force commitment to map U.S. coral reef ecosystems.

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Relevant Links

NCCOS Coral Reef Ecosystem Benthic Habitat Mapping Activities NCCOS Coral Reef Biological Monitoring & Assessment Activities Recent NCCOS Coral Reef Ecosystem Related Publications

Time Frame

Ongoing; 2004 – Present

For More Information

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


Related Biogeography Projects

See relevant links above