The primary objective for this cruise was to produce an ultra-high resolution bathymetric map of the area southwest of the Florida Middle Grounds (FMG) using the Reson SeaBat 7125 multibeam echosounder (MBES) system. This area is located approximately 180 kilometers (km) northwest of the mouth of Tampa Bay and is one of a number of shelf-edge projections that have been identified along the West Florida Shelf (WFS). 

 

 

Prior to leaving Tampa Bay, all systems including the multibeam, the POS MV, and the sound velocity profiler were tested near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in the shipping channel. Upon arrival at the survey area southwest of the FMG a patch test was performed in a small area of modest seafloor relief, and the results were integrated into the MBES system. The survey was able to cover an area of approximately 68.5 km2 in 48 hours of operation. Sound velocity profiles (SVPs) were conducted a minimum of three times per day during the survey.

 

We anticipate these data will support a resolution of <3 meters (m) grid size for the survey area when post-processing is complete. Acoustic backscatter data from the multibeam system will also be analyzed for correlation with different benthic habitat classifications. The preliminary bathymetric maps have been used to identify target areas and plan the proposed track lines for towed video survey work in this area using the C-BASS system.

 

Bathymetric surface (top) and backscatter intensity (bottom)
maps of the May 2016 survey area.