This study presents a method for rapidly collecting, processing, and interrogating real-time abiotic and biotic seabed data to determine seabed habitat classifications. This is done from data collected over a large area of an acoustically derived seabed map, along multidirectional transects, using a towed small camera-sled. The seabed, within the newly designated Point Harris Marine Reserve on the northern coast of San Miguel Island, California, was acoustically imaged using sidescan sonar then ground-truthed using a towed small camera-sled. Seabed characterizations were made from video observations, and were logged to a laptop computer (PC) in real time. To ground-truth the acoustic mosaic, and to characterize abiotic and biotic aspects of the seabed, a three-tiered characterization scheme was employed that described the substratum type, physical structure (i.e., bedform or vertical relief), and the occurrence of benthic macrofauna and flora. A crucial advantage of the method described here, is that preliminary seabed characterizations can be interrogated and mapped over the sidescan mosaic and other seabed information within hours of data collection. This ability to rapidly process seabed data is invaluable to scientists and managers, particularly in modifying concurrent or planning subsequent surveys.
Additional publication details
A rapid method to characterize seabed habitats and associated macro-organisms