What kind of sonar hardware should I buy for BioBase Mapping is the most common question we are asked. Admittedly, continual change in technology, products, and features can be intimidating and sometimes confusing. With this blog, we focus on what you need to know to get started with BioBase
Users of BioBase may be interested to know you can view your location on a BioBase map on your mobile device if you allow your browser to access your location
Then log into your account at https://www.biobasemaps.com and navigate to your waterbody of interest and view the trip/merge. The gray dot should show up automatically on your location. Users may find this useful to field verify mapped areas or navigate to areas of interest. However, downloadable full Lowrance/Simrad charts are also available for both EcoSound and EcoSat giving the user a bigger map screen and more navigation/waypoint features.
River channel thalwegs (the line of lowest elevation within a valley or watercourse) are often dynamic, and sometimes hidden features of large river systems. Especially low slope or impounded systems. The thalweg is a critical geomorphological feature of river and reservoir systems and affects everything from sediment transport, to fisheries habitat, to algae or invasive plant control.
Thus a good bathymetric contour map is a necessary pre-requisite for effective river and reservoir management. Here, we walk you through how to use new real time technologies (C-MAP’s Genesis Live) to produce smooth, precise, and accurate maps of hidden river thalwegs all within one trip to the site and with automated post-processing with BioBase’s EcoSound. We’ll use an annotated image gallery to take you through this process.
BioBase’s EcoSound bottom composition (hardness) algorithm has become quite popular for researchers and lake/pond managers to determine where sedimentation from the watershed may be occurring. However, interpreting sonar returns in shallow environments (e.g., less than 7 ft or 2 m) with off-the-shelf sonar is challenging, especially if aquatic vegetation is present. Each situation is different and the objective of this blog is to inform you of how to interpret your EcoSound map in situations when you encounter counter intuitive bottom hardness results.
Here are some high level points to remember.
BioBase is a powerful data collection and mapping tool for aquatic environments. To get the best results with BioBase – EcoSound, it is important to use proper hardware installation and data collection procedures. This post contains links to the resources that will help you get started with BioBase and get great data.
First, BioBase is only compatible with Lowrance and Simrad Sounders/Chartplotters. This blog offers helpful advice for which sonar to choose
Our quality control team reviews every uploaded trip and looks for glaring issues with the trip like evidence of a slanted transducer, signal loss, or poor signal quality. Its critically important that you have your transducer installed correctly. We recommend you take it to marina to have it professionally installed.
Our Quality Control Team may email you if they notice any significant issues with your trip, and suggest ways to fix the issue or ways to improve data quality before logging again. Waterbody boundary adjustment is part of the BioBase service but there will be a delay between when your trip is automatically processed and when Quality Control staff are able to adjust the boundary of your waterbody. Please allow one business day for quality control before finalizing or sharing your maps, or check the quality control review status by viewing a trip’s report.
If there is a quality control reviewer’s name on the report with comments, the trip has been reviewed. You can also see any comments that were not emailed to you on the report.
It is also important to keep your Lowrance software updated. Software updates can be found here. Outdated software can result in inaccurate or lost data!
Our YouTube channel has many helpful videos, including data editing tutorials.
This post gives an overview on how EcoSound works along with some answers to frequently asked questions that many new users have.
The EcoSound Quick Start Guide shows recommended settings to use while logging sonar. Print this guide and keep it on your survey boat.
The EcoSound Support and Resources page has links to the EcoSound Full Operator’s Guide as well as several tutorials, including guides for using EcoSound data in QGIS.
If you ever need any assistance, contact the BioBase support team at firstname.lastname@example.org
Another FAQ we get is wondering if there are published studies using BioBase technology? There are many legacy applications on which the BioBase technology is based. Further, now that a sufficient passage of years has accumulated to support the “research to publication” cycle, we’re happy to share several BioBase-specific studies published in the peer-reviewed literature. This is far from an exhaustive list and we’ve intentionally left out the niche growth in consumer side-scan technology for creating habitat maps. If there are good published papers you know of that are not on this list, please share in the comments.
Thanks to advances in physical, chemical and biological technologies and funding that are focused on reducing sedimentation or muck depth in waterways, many water resource practitioners are eager to determine how much sediment is in a waterway of interest and how much could be removed. As such, we frequently are asked: “Will BioBase tell you how deep the sediment is?”
Ten Mile Lake in Hackensack, Minnesota is one of many crown jewel lakes of Minnesota. It’s no wonder the Ten Mile Lake Association is serious about lake monitoring and conservation. When BioBase approached TMLA member and hobby Fisheries Biologist Dr. Bruce Carlson in late 2012 demonstrating how members could passively log their sonar data and map habitat while enjoying a pleasure cruise or fishing, Dr. Carlson jumped at the opportunity.
Two hundred and twenty four trips spanning two seasons (2013-2014) and 5,065 acres (2,049 ha) later, Dr. Carlson and colleagues have produced the most accurate and detailed map of Ten Mile Lake on the planet (Figure 1)!
When comparing the hand-made maps of 1947 from the long-dissolved MN Dept of Conservation one has to wonder if creating this map took a dedicated and highly trained survey crew all summer to create this map (Figures 2-4)? Now a critical mass of anglers or pleasure boaters with no mapping experience can create a community-sourced contour map that rivals anything produced by the most trained hydrologists using the most expensive “survey-grade” echosounders.
|Figure 2. Original map of Ten Mile Lake created in 1947 by the MN Department of Conservation (left) next to the aggregated map produced by TMLA volunteers in 2014 after uploading to BioBase. Maps created in the mid 20th Century remain the only maps offered to anglers and recreationists by a large number State Natural Resource agencies. Often these old maps are digitized and artfully recontoured and shaded for resale.|
|Figure 3. Close up of the 10-ft contours displayed in the 1947 Department of Conservation map compared with the 2014 aggregated map created by TMLA volunteer uploads to BioBase.|
|Figure 4. Tight zoom of 10-ft contours from 1947 MN Department of Conservation map (ink blob on top) compared with 3-ft contours from aggregated map created by TMLA volunteer uploads to BioBase.|
Not just an improvement in aesthetics!
The efforts of TMLA and volunteers from other Lake Associations across the US (e.g., Lake Paradise, Honeoye, Prior Lake) are producing not only pretty maps but also updated digital maps for the public and highly detailed fish habitat and aquatic plant data for aquatic researchers and managers.
First, public trips uploaded and aggregated both from BioBase and C-MAP Genesis mapping services from anywhere across the globe go to Social Map where they are available for viewing and downloading for free to Lowrance, Simrad, and B&G chartplotters (Figures 5 and 6).
|Figure 5. Insight Genesis Social Map coverage of Sweden.|
Second, Fisheries across the globe are threatened by a range of impacts too long to go into detail here and Aquatic Invasive Species are a global pandemic. Researchers and managers mourn the decline of native aquatic species and often target habitat degradation or loss as a primary driver. But rarely does information on habitat match the detail of the information on species declines. Citizen Scientists are now helping Natural Resource Agencies fill in the habitat knowledge gaps. Returning to our example on Ten Mile Lake, now with updated bathymetry provided by TMLA volunteers and data sharing with MN Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Fisheries researchers have precise knowledge about how much cold, well oxygenated water is available for cisco (an important cold-water forage fish for popular gamefish). Similarly, thanks to the efforts of the Prior Lake Spring Lake Watershed District and citizen volunteers on Prior and Spring Lakes, the response of invasive aquatic plants to watershed and in-lake management actions can be monitored.
Harnessing the power of technology and citizen science to conserve aquatic resources
“Doing more with less” or “working smarter not harder” are common cliché truths that will continue to limit the reach of publicly funded natural resource management programs into the foreseeable future. Through advances in affordable off-the-shelf consumer technology, automation, and the collective enthusiasm of citizen volunteers, good information on aquatic habitat need’nt suffer from declining public natural resource budgets. Rather, by enrolling the help of citizens and technology such as described here, aquatic biologists and managers can focus their energies on using the information to make wise aquatic resource management decisions.
ciBioBase’s Trip Replay feature that couples bottom depth, aquatic vegetation biovolume, and bottom hardness maps with your actual Sonar Log empowers you with a verification tool that ensures an accurate map in every system you map, every time. The sonar log also provides users and our Quality Control team helpful information about signal quality and transducer placement that can help both parties diagnose issues.
A little known feature in ciBioBase allows users to reprocess their Lowrance HDS/Elite sonar log at different color and sensitivity settings (Figure 1).
Sometimes, your Sonar Log may look a little too “hot” making it difficult to distinguish between plants and bottom (Figure 2).
|Figure 2. Sonar Log showing colors that may be “too hot” to distinguish between plants and bottom.|
Try reprocessing the sonar log at a colorline of 240 (default is 220). This will bring in “cooler” colors to the sonar log and may help you better distinguish subtle bottom features and gaps in plant beds (Figure 3).
|Figure 3. Sonar Log reprocessed with a colorline of 240.|
Alternatively, Lowrance has a powerful free desktop software program called SonarViewer which allows you to replay your Sonar Log with options to dynamically control sensitivity, colorline, zoom, and range (Figure 4).
|Figure 4. SonarViewer is a free download from Lowrance and has a range of tools for enhancing the contrast of bottom features detected by your Lowrance HDS or Elite.|
Use SonarViewer to review your files prior to upload to ciBioBase if you suspect possible signal quality issues or are testing different transducer setups for optimal signal quality. Signal Quality should also be continually monitored by watching your SONAR page on your HDS or Elite while collecting data on the water. A helpful rule of thumb is that a signal that is clear and crisp to your eyes is most likely clear and crisp to ciBioBase algorithms.
The Importance of Aquatic Vegetation Abundance Mapping and Long Term Monitoring from a Layman’s Perspective
Let’s understand our lake’s resilience and identify if it’s at risk. Let’s get our resource managers identifying which lakes need close attention and devote our stretched budgets to the ones that need it. The chips are already stacked against us and without good quantitative data, they’re stacked even further. With mismanaged resources it becomes a war we can’t win.