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FISHPAC

A Multi-disciplinary Habitat and Hydroacoustic Research Project

R/V Fairweather The first FISHPAC field experiment (cruise report) was conducted in the southeastern Bering Sea in the summer of 2006 aboard the NOAA ship FAIRWEATHER. The objectives were:

  • investigate the utility of acoustic backscatter for characterizing EFH of eastern Bering Sea (EBS) species using a variety of sonar and groundtruthing systems.
  • determine the most cost-effective sonar methodology for large-scale mapping of EFH in the EBS.
  • provide hydrographic-quality bathymetry data to the NOAA Pacific Hydrographic Branch (PHB) for updating nautical charts in areas with outdated or non-existent information (AFSC Quarterly Report).

Substantial technological innovations are associated with this project, including the development and testing of a prototype Long-Range Sidescan Sonar (LRSSS) complete with fiber-optic data transmission interface and cantilever winch. The LRSSS is a quantitative sonar that is capable of very broad coverage (>1 km swath) and could greatly improve the efficiency of habitat characterization and mapping.

Five independent sonar systems were compared in the experiment:

  • 2 hull-mounted multibeam echosounders on FAIRWEATHER (50 kHz, 100 kHz)
  • high-resolution interferometric sidescan sonar (455 kHz)
  • prototype Klein 7180 LRSSS (180 kHz)
  • vertical incidence echosounder (38 kHz, mounted on the LRSSS towfish)

sonar system
Prototype Klein 7180 LRSSS (180 kHz)
and echosounder (38 Hz) towfish

Three sampling devices were used at selected stations along the tracklines to groundtruth acoustic backscatter and assemble a comprehensive understanding of the seafloor:

  • Free-Fall Cone Penetrometer (FFCPT)
  • SEABed Observation and Sampling System (SEABOSS)
  • Towed Auto-Compensating Optical System (TACOS)

FFCPT Click to enlarge image in a new window.Click to enlarge image in a new window.SEABOSS Click to enlarge image in a new window.Click to enlarge image in a new window.TACOS Click to enlarge image in a new window.Click to enlarge image in a new window.
FFCPT                      SEABOSS                                       TACOS                  

Sample imagery. Click to enlarge image in a new window.Click to enlarge image in a new window.Sample imagery. Click to enlarge image in a new window.Click to enlarge image in a new window.
Snapshots of the southeastern Bering Sea seafloor
captured by SEABOSS

 

FISHPAC tracklines crossed standard bottom trawl stations in the southeastern Bering Sea that are surveyed annually by RACE . Multiple passes were made along 720 nm of tracklines that spanned strong gradients of groundfish abundance. With this design it is possible to study the relationship between species distribution and acoustical data from each sonar system, and compare the performance (cost-benefit) of the systems.

Backscatter intensity over part of the seafloor surveyed by the LRSSS. Click to enlarge image in a new window.Click to enlarge image in a new window. Backscatter intensity over part of
the seafloor surveyed by the LRSSS

Survey tacklines and groundtruth stations. Click to enlarge image in a new window.Click to enlarge image in a new window. FISHPAC survey tracklines and groundtruth stations

 


 

Research Partners:

 

Recently Featured in the AFSC Quarterly Research Reports:

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