Export BioBase EcoSound Maps as Lowrance Charts

2020 has been a busy year for BioBase improvements and new feature releases. Previously exclusive to BioBase’s sister consumer mapping platform, C-MAP Genesis, BioBase users can now export their bathymetric, aquatic vegetation heatmap, or bottom hardness map in a file format (AT5) that is compatible with most newer generation Lowrance and Simrad chartplotters. This feature enables researchers and aquatic resource managers to return to surveyed areas of interest and precisely target follow-up surveys or management actions (e.g., strategic taking of water or aquatic plant samples, placement of fish habitat structures or aeration equipment, precision applications of aquatic herbicides, etc.)


In the images and captions below, we’ll walk you through how to do this in your biobasemaps.com account.

  1. Register your Lowrance or Simrad Chartplotter in your BioBase Account
Assuming you have already recorded your sonar data and successfully uploaded to biobasemaps.com, log into your BioBase account. Click “Plotters”
Add unique details of your chartplotter. This feature is compatible with most newer (newer than 2014) Lowrance and Simrad GPS capable devices (e.g., Lowrance HDS, Elite Ti and Ti2, Simrad GO and Evo)
Look in the “About” menu of your Chartplotter. Image above is from a Lowrance HDS Carbon.
Look for the Serial Number and Content ID alphanumeric code. Enter these into the plotter form on biobasemaps.com

2. Export the GPS Chart file from the desired EcoSound Trip or Merge from BioBase.

In the Export Data tool, select “GPS Chart Generation”
Export the desired layers

3. Unzip the downloaded file and save to a MicroSD card (<32 GB).

The layer will export as .zip with a random GUID name. The zip file must be unzipped (7-Zip is a great freeware for unzipping files) and the entire contents of the extracted zip file should be copied to a MicroSD card. The contents in the folder are propriety, encrypted files (.AT5) that are specific to the device you registered in your account. The chart file will not work in other non-registered devices. You can register multiple devices. One card can hold multiple AT5 folders (charts) and recorded sonar logs. Cards cannot be larger than 32 GB however.

4. View and Use in your Lowrance or Simrad!

Insert the card with the saved AT5 chart files. Go to the Chart and select the appropriate Chart Source in Chart Options. Voilà!
Sample bottom hardness map from the same BioBase survey.
If you want to view a blue- (or custom-) shaded contour map, simply uncheck the Vegetation/Composition categories in one of the Chart menus.
Detailed, custom-made bathymetric chart. Note that prior to using for navigation, close attention by the user should be given to the quality of the sonar data recorded and resulting accuracy of the map.


BioBase EcoSound Composition (Hardness) Algorithm: More details!

The centralized nature of BioBase (biobasemaps.com) cloud technologies coupled with sophisticated, yet low-cost consumer electronics like Lowrance or Simrad depth sounders/chartplotters have created fertile grounds for developing, testing, and verifying algorithms for typing aquatic environments.  The more users upload from a greater range of systems, the more refined algorithms can become addressing a wider range of conditions and use cases!

Early in 2014, we released a revision to our EcoSound bottom composition (hardness) algorithm that is more sensitive and robust in a greater range of depths and bottom conditions.  Many outside researchers were involved with collecting important “ground truth” information while they logged their BioBase data.  This blog not only serves to describe the new Bottom Composition algorithm, but also publish the results and acknowledge the scientists that helped with this effort.

Continue reading “BioBase EcoSound Composition (Hardness) Algorithm: More details!”

BioBase 3 Step Process: Important Details!

A primary strength of BioBase EcoSound is its simplicity and that is reflected in the easy 3 step process of “Collect,” “Upload,” and “Analyze” (Figure 1).

Figure 1. The core process of EcoSound depicting the 3 Steps of “Collect,” “Upload,” and “Analyze.”

But there are many strategies that users can employ that will ensure that they will get the best EcoSound outputs possible.  We’ll focus on several questions under each of the three categories

Continue reading “BioBase 3 Step Process: Important Details!”

ECU Research on Lowrance/BioBase Effectiveness for Seagrass Mapping

Read about exciting new research by Dr. Joe Luczkovich’s lab at East Carolina University demonstrating rapid, precise and cost-effective acoustic techniques for mapping seagrass habitats in North Carolina USA’s Coastal Estuaries.  Dr. Luczkovich and undergraduate research assistant Audrey Pleva talk about the very high accuracy of Lowrance HDS and BioBase for seagrass in shallow areas of Jarrett Bay, Blount’s Bay, and Currituck Sound compared with underwater videography

Below is the abstract from: Audrey Pleva and Joseph Luczkovich.  2013. Effects of salinity on submerged aquatic vegetation’s growth and abundance in North Carolina and assessment of a SONAR’s accuracy to measure vegetation. Unpublished report, Department of Biology,  Institute for Coastal Science and Policy, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27858.  Contact Dr. Luczkovich if you have questions or would like a copy of the report.  Contact Navico to get updated (cheaper) pricing from what is cited in the report and to get you started assessing seagrass habitats with Lowrance/Simrad and BioBase!


 Submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) is one of the most important estuarine habitats supporting commercially and recreationally important fishes and invertebrates, providing species food and shelter from predation. Salinity levels, an important factor in SAV growth and survival, are rising in North Carolina due to sea level rise bringing salty water from the Atlantic Ocean into NC, posing a threat to freshwater species. SAV species adapted to a certain salinity level are stressed by long and short term changes in salinity, resulting in patchy or smaller beds. In this project, a recently developed survey technique based on a combined video and echosounder system was used to measure the SAV % cover at three sites, each with different long-term and short-term salinity levels. Our hypothesis was that large short-term changes in salinity would be a stressor for SAV, and that as the range in salinity and the average long-term salinity increased, SAV % cover would decrease. We measured changes in water quality including salinity, temperature, and dissolved oxygen, and SAV cover using boat-based SONAR techniques at Jarrett Bay (JBS), Blount’s Bay (BLB), and Currituck Sound (CTS) in North Carolina during the beginning of the growth season where salinity is a very important growth factor. SONAR data were collected along 30 transects at 10-m intervals across the study area at JBS and BLB, but 60 transects at 25-m intervals at CTS. The accuracy of the SONAR technique was assessed using underwater video at 100 randomly selected points along transects at each site. Accuracy was very high (87.8 %) and relatively equal between all three sites. The salinities and % cover were highly variable among sites, in both the short- and long-term measurements, allowing for an analysis of the relationship between SAV and salinity. Overall mean long-term salinity was negatively correlated (r = -0.7) with SAV percent cover. Short-term salinity increases may cause declines in SAV cover, as freshwater species are displaced by salinity-tolerant SAV species.
Example image of seagrass abundance (% of water column with vegetation) in Currituck Sound, North Carolina.  200 khz Sonar image from Lowrance HDS (right) is coupled and synced with kriging interpolated map of vegetation abundance (left).  Areas of red are where vegetation is growing to or near the surface.  Areas of blue are bare.  Green and yellow is lower lying vegetation.  Datasets are summarized in BioBase with several analytic tools, but spatial data can also be exported for analysis in any third party GIS or statistical analysis platform.

See an online pdf of a presentation recently given by Dr. Luczkovich describing some of these results.