We were contacted in June 2017 by a local gentleman who wanted some more information on the Elbow. Using the resources on our website, he planned a fishing trip for himself and his family to the fishing spot in early July. Based on some of the photos we got back, it looks like they were successful!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Red Snapper (Lutjanus campechanus)

 

 

 

Red Grouper (Epinephelus morio)

In late March, we had fun setting up a booth at the Grand Opening event for Gator Jim's Tackle Shop in St. Petersburg, FL.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We debuted our 3D C-BASS videos using VR goggles and also had maps and posters free for the taking. 

In all it was a great day getting to speak with the recreational fishers in our area and showing them some of what we've been doing in the Gulf.

Below are answers to some questions we receive concerning the data available for download on this website.

1. How do you decide where to map?

A variety of sources are used to decide where to map but because the focus of this project is to find 'essential habitat' for reef fishes and sea turtles, we have mostly relied on coarsely gridded Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) data. These data are essentially GPS pings from fishing vessels that are uploaded every hour to a database managed by the National Marine Fisheries Service. By filtering the data and matching the timestamps with logbook data (i.e. what was caught and approximately how much) for each vessel, we can get an idea of where we may find habitat that supports species such as groupers, snappers, and amberjacks.

 

2. How do you collect the data?

We use a multibeam echosounder (MBES) system from RESON called the Seabat 7125. During surveys, the sonar head is mounted to either the hull of a research vessel or on a pole that is then attached to the side of the ship. Once the system is all set up, which takes 1-2 days of mobilization (wiring up the boat, mounting the sonar head, loading computers, etc.), we set out for the area of interest. After completing some necessary calibration exercises, we then "mow the lawn" for 6-8 days. During this time we intermittently stop data acquisition to collect sound velocity profiles, or SVP's, of the water column which provides us with information about how the pulses from the sonar are moving through the water. 

 

3. What do you do with the data once it's been collected?

As we're collecting data from the MBES, it's considered 'raw' and there is a considerable amount of processing that must be completed to produce the bathymetric surfaces you see available on our site. Once a survey has been completed, the raw files are loaded into processing software where we check for data gaps (called 'holidays'), data quality (i.e. ping editing which looks for instances where the beam may have reflected off of a large fish or dolphin), and apply corrections for tide and the movement of survey vessel. 

 

4. Why are some of the maps at different grid sizes? How accurate are the maps?

No map is perfect and there is always some degree of interpolation required to create the bathymetric map surfaces that you see available for download on our site. However, we follow NOAA's Integrated Ocean and Coastal Mapping (IOCM) standards which can be found here. The grid size is chosen based on how large we want the file size to be, how many data gaps were present in the raw data, as well as how tightly our survey lines were spaced during the time of raw data acquisition. 

 

5. Am I allowed to use the data I download from C-SCAMP for presentations, other products, research projects, etc.?

Of course! However, even though we're offering these data for open download on our website, they are copyrighted and as such need to be cited. Each data download page has the proper citation that should be used in any product, presentation, research, etc. derived from that dataset. If there are any questions on the citations, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Depending on what you're trying to do with the data, we may have other surfaces and/or file types that would better suit your needs so we encourage you to send us an inquiry. Due to their size, none of the backscatter surfaces have been posted for download but they are available. 

 

 

The objectives for this cruise were to image several areas southwest of the Florida Middle Grounds, the Pipeline, the Elbow and Steamboat Lumps where previous mapping took place. The ship departed at approximately 1800 EDT on April 20, 2017 and completed an EK60 calibration near St. Pete Bay Reef, as well as a POS MV calibration before passing under the Skyway. The Reson SeaBat 7125 multibeam echosounder was operated in tandem with the C-BASS and EK-60 echosounder for almost the entire duration of the cruise and was used overnight to complete small surveys when the camera system was not being deployed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Field of Grouper Holes Mapped in Northern Steamboat Lumps MPA (left) and zoomed in (right) to view individual grouper holes. 

 

The transects imaged this cruise were concentrated during daylight hours due to unfavorable visibility conditions which worsened at night. Though there were consistent C-BASS communications issues, we managed to collect ~60 hours of towed video, including water column data, in addition to mapping new areas west of the Elbow, east of the Florida Middle Grounds, and around the grouper holes in Steamboat Lumps using multibeam echosounder. 

CTD and sound velocity profile casts were collected throughout the cruise for a total of 20 by the end of the last planned transect. On the last day, a glider was deployed just west of Steamboat Lumps. The ship began return to port on April 26th and arrived at approximately 07:30 AM EDT on April 27. Some imagery highlights are shown below: Sandbar Shark (left) and Loggerhead Sea Turtle (right). 

 

The primary objectives for this cruise were to collect video imagery of previously mapped areas in three locations: the Florida Middle Grounds, the Elbow and the Gulfstream Pipeline. The ship departed at 18:25 UTC on October 16, 2016 and multibeam pole installation was finished upon entering deeper waters. We then attempted an EK60 calibration near the Skyway Bridge but were unable to complete it due to a strong tide and degrading weather conditions. Once past the Skyway, a GAMS calibration was completed.

 

Aside from brief C-BASS communication problems, in total, 56 hours and 25 minutes of video were recorded over 382 km of planned transects. The Reson SeaBat 7125 multibeam echosounder (MBES), EK60 echosounder and C-BASS were successfully used in tandem for a second time, which expanded the coexisting datasets. There was 24 hour C-BASS operations for almost the entirety of the cruise, with the MBES stepping in when the C-BASS had operational downtime.

Anecdotal observations of the data indicate a lower fish abundance and extent of living benthic habitat than in previous surveys completed in the same areas. Chlorophyll and turbidity were higher than February and April resulting in somewhat poor visibility.  

 

At the end of the cruise another EK-60 calibration was attempted but a strong current/tide was still present and again the calibration was unable to be completed. The ship returned to port on October 22, 2016.