Adding Ecological Context to Essestial Fish Habitat Models using Groundtruthing Technologies


Variable absorption and reflection by geological and biological materials affect the acoustic returns from seafloor mapping sonars. Subsequent groundtruthing enables ecological interpretations of the acoustic information, and can be a useful component of seafloor characterization. In order to improve our understanding of the seafloor as an element of essential fish habitat (EFH), we use three different devices to groundtruth acoustic backscatter: 1) a Free Fall Cone Penetrometer (FFCPT); 2) a SEABed Observation and Sampling System (SEABOSS); and 3) a Towed Auto-Compensating Optical System (TACOS). The FFCPT is a probe designed to free fall through the water column and can penetrate the seabed to 3 meters depth. Measurements of both acceleration and pressure allow a profile of sediment types to be determined. The SEABOSS allows us to observe surficial sediment properties and acquire physical seabed characteristics using a single instrument deployment. Digital still and video cameras are configured to image the seafloor surface while simultaneously obtaining a physical sample with a van Veen grab. The TACOS design provides the ability to capture downward-looking video streams in a towed application. An industrial machine vision camera provides overlapping video frames that can be mosaicked into a seamless picture providing greater spatial context of seabed composition and biological attributes than is possible through single image exposures. These devices provide complementary information on seafloor characteristics and generate a multifaceted view of the physical and biological components of habitat. Such views improve our understanding of ecological relationships and guide the formulation of our quantitative EFH models.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date



NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-F/SPO-112

Journal Title

Joint Session of the National Stock and Habitat Assessment Workshops



Conference Date

May 17-20, 2010

Publisher Place

St Petersburg, FL, USA


NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

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