Essential Habitats and their Fish Communities

After an area is mapped and we have high resolution multibeam bathymetry and backscatter, a subsequent cruise uses the C-BASS to image the bottom. This provides data on the states of reef fish and sea turtle populations as well as detailed information about habitat.

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Integrating Technologies

Success of this project truly relies on the integration of many different technologies. The first step is the mapping process to obtain multibeam bathymetry which requires several data streams from the echosounder, GPS, POS MV, and tidal information among others.

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Mapping New Areas on the WFS

The C-SCAMP group at the University of South Florida's College of Marine Science acquired a new multibeam system (RESON Seabat 7125) which will be used to produce extremely high resolution multibeam bathymetry and backscatter data.

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C-BASS: A Towed Camera System for Visual Reef Fish Abundance Estimates and Benthic Habitat Assessment

Visit our YouTube page, C-SCAMP Videos

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End of 2017 Field Season

With our 2017 field work season now at a close, we will be spending the winter finalizing our new maps and analyzing C-BASS footage collected throughout the year. 

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Partnering with FIO and FWRI

Our partners in this project inlcude FIO, the Florida Institute of Oceanography, and FWRI, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, both housed right next door to our offices. The two vessels used for mapping and C-BASS (imaging) surveys on the West Florida Shelf (WFS) are the R/V Weatherbird II and R/V Bellows which are commissioned though FIO. 

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Benthic Habitat Mapping

Benthic Habitat Mapping

Where are the areas of necessity?

Multibeam bathymetry and backscatter maps are ground-truthed using footage from the C-BASS and detailed habitat maps indicating essential reef fish and sea turtle habitat can then be developed.

Advanced Technology

Advanced Technology

Learn more about the instrumentation being used in this project.

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Creating Benthic Habitat Maps

By using the backscatter and bathymetry data in tandem with video for ground-truthing habitat types, we hope to eventually create habitat maps that span large areas; once different backscatter returns on are ground-truthed at various depths, an algorithm can be developed that predicts the habitat type over areas not ground-truthed via C-BASS video.

Extrapolating Density to Obtain Absolute Abundances

After obtaining footage of a transect, analysis begins by counting and identifying (to lowest taxonomic level possible, dependent on visibility conditions, altitude above bottom, etc.) all individuals within the chosen camera's field-of-view (FOV). Currently, the video is analyzed in one minute clips and this is used as the sampling unit.

Upon counting and identifying fishes, the area viewed for each minute is estimated by calculating the FOV and length of transect covered. This is done via a series of trigonometrical equations and using the ship's speed over ground, respectively. The density (number per square kilometer) of each species viewed per minute can then be calculated.

Density estimates are then post-stratified according to habitat type which is done using multibeam and backscatter maps in an Geographical Information System (GIS) as all the counts/density estimates are georeferenced. Knowing the area of each stratum, or habitat type, the stratified density estimates can then be extrapolated to obtain total abundance estimates for the entire survey area.

Using Several Data Sources to Define Priority Areas

In addition to fisheries data available through NOAA (Gulf of Mexico Data Atlas), there are many other sources used to decide which areas are priority for the upcoming mapping cruises. Some of these include:

1. Loggerhead Sea Turtle sightings - this species has diet overlap with Red Grouper (Epinephalus morio) meaning it's presence could be a good indicator of the grouper's habitat

2. Previously mapped areas with multibeam and backscatter

3. Nautical Charts

4. Commercial and Recreational Fishing Locations

5. Sidescan Data


Understanding Reactive Behavior

In order to understand the sampling ability of this system, it is necessary to investigate how fish react to C-BASS during surveys.  For the more conspicuous species (snappers, groupers, jacks), which are the targets of this technology, observed reactive movement is being quantified.  We've found that a majority of individuals have exhibited neutral behavior which includes remaining stationary or being "in transit" as C-BASS passes by.

C-BASS was also a part of the first Untrawlable Habitat Survey Initiative (UHSI) cruise in August of 2014.  The purpose of this cruise was to compare and test several survey technologies, including an ROV, AUV, and stationary cameras, to investigate what level of sampling coverage each was capable of.  This initiative was funded by and a collaboration with NOAA NMFS.


Above: Photo progression showing the reaction of a Red Grouper (Epinephelus morio) from it's initial and final views on the footage. The grouper does not appear to react to C-BASS until approximately 4-seconds after being initially spotted.

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Some of our work with advanced image analysis is featured here! Check it out! #TechTuesday @USFResearch @USFCMS
Guess who saw their first #MantaRay yest? We did! This beauty was recorded by the C-BASS underwater camera system o…


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