I remember the days when you had to schedule an hour out of your field day to “set up” and “take down” your mapping set-up. Wires, an echosounder, a transducer, a GPS, a PC to run everything all had to be set up and configured (Figure 1). Most importantly, equipment had to be secured by creatively fashioned brackets, booms, and working platforms so you didn’t lose a $4,000 part. Many horror stories over the years have been told by colleagues who forgot “Righty” was “Tighty” and as a result dropped an expensive piece of fish structure in the drink!
|Figure 1. Elaborate set up of wires, brackets, and working platforms needed to operate the hydroacoustic systems of yesterday|
Needless to say, life during this period was about dedication. A dedicated survey boat. Dedicated surveys. Dedicated staff to run the equipment. Dedicated staff to analyze the data. Dedicated staff to oversee that “Righty” made “Tighty” (ok, maybe not that bad). But still, the expense and logistics of such dedication kept hydroacoustic mapping out of the reach of most water and fisheries resource entities.
With advances in consumer sonar technology, GIS and cloud-computing, now anyone can create high quality bathymetry, vegetation, and bottom hardness maps and datasets with a $700 Lowrance Depth finder, a canoe, and access to the internet with a subscription to ciBioBase (Figure 2).
Who needs dedication anyway?
No needs for a dedicated boat. The unit can be made portable with no larger than a 12” by 8” footprint (Figure 3). The transducer(s) and optional GPS can be mounted on a bracket available from Cabelas (Figure 4). This set up can then be put on a range of vessels from a canoe to a large cabin cruiser. It can be checked out and passed around by lake association subscribers taking turns mapping the lake on which they live if they don’t already have an HDS.
|Figure 3. Lowrance HDS units can be made portable a variety of different ways to fit your budget and sampling needs.|
|Figure 4. Example portable mounts for transducers|
No need for dedicated staff trained in hydroacoustics and GIS. Although ciBioBase offers much for the Hydroacoustic and GIS aficionados via data exporting and importing into their favorite data analysis software, training in hydroacoustics and GIS is not a prerequisite for creating good outputs and datasets. Hydroacoustics and Geostatistics are not new or “soft” sciences that are so variable and complex that they can’t be automated (i.e., ecology). The basic physics of sound traveling through water and reflecting off of various objects has been well understood for decades. Concepts and applications of kriging (originally developed in the gold mining industry) are almost as old and well understood. Accordingly, ciBioBase automates the interpretation of acoustic signals, creation of a GIS map layers, and standard summary reports.
Dedication in almost every aspect of life is an admirable virtue for which we all should strive. However, when it comes to mapping lakes, rivers, or ponds, ciBioBase lowers the prestige of this virtue. Indeed, there will always be a well-placed need for dedicated mapping. However, we feel opportunities for understanding the dynamic nature of aquatic habitats will be missed if data are not logged while engaging in other activities on the water. This is non-dedication at its finest!