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
For this Professional Spotlight the BioBase team sat down with a biologist at a power plant. They use BioBase to evaluate risk of cooling water intake blockage from aquatic vegetation. This is one of many methods they use ensure abundant cooling water is available for the redundant intake systems. In 2012, invasive zebra mussels invaded the system and paved the way for aquatic vegetation by clearing the water. They map aquatic vegetation during the growing season and use the polygon tool to measure percent area covered and biovolume in the areas of interest. Aquatic vegetation management recommendations are based on this data. Before BioBase they took samples using a rake to determine what species were present and estimate the total biovolume. Now using BioBase they can easily measure biovolume at location with ease.
When asked why they chose to use BioBase they responded, “the value, there are a lot of options out there, most are expensive, but BioBase is not.” Even at a low cost “it still produces very reliable data, BioBase is a high value product.”
Eli Kersh started a consulting firm, e-limnology, in 2016 and used it to provide services for customers as a side business where his current employer had gaps. He primarily provided mapping for customers and his business took off. Eventually he found a niche and e-limnology transformed into its current form Lake Tech. Lake Tech is on the forefront of new products and technologies for lake management. He is always trying to have a practical approach to lake management and rely heavily on new technologies that demonstrate value and ultimately simplifies lake management to make it more accessible to the public.
BioBase now offers a single waterbody subscription, it includes unlimited uploads to a single waterbody for 30 days and up to 10GB of storage for $399. The BioBase team has listened to your feedback on the single use plans and expanded it to a single waterbody. This feature now allows occasional, project-based users the ability to purchase a short-term full-featured plan on one waterbody without the commitment to a full unlimited subscription. You can purchase the single waterbody subscription through the “My Account” page then “Purchase New Subscription” link.
BioBase’s EcoSound is a powerful cloud platform for creating high definition lake or coastal maps of depth, aquatic vegetation (or seagrass), and bottom hardness from Lowrance® and Simrad®
sonar systems. For the user, the process of converting volumes of raw sonar and gps signals into an intuitive map is easy and requires very little input upfront. Record your sonar while out on the water to a microSD card, plug the card into your PC back at the office, log into your BioBase account and upload. Algorithms on remote servers do the rest of the work. However, one of the most frequently overlooked parts of this equation is careful attention to the proper installation of the transducer sensor that is pinging the bottom and collecting all the information below the boat. The importance of proper transducer installation cannot be overstated. If the transducer is not properly placed on the boat or not at the appropriate angle, your BioBase outputs could be inaccurate. Modelers have heard it said many times (sometimes in more colorful language), the quality of the output depends on the quality of the input.
Sonar technology continues to improve bringing anglers and aquatic managers better, more clear pictures of the underwater environment on which they are so intently focused. Launched in 2011, BioBase’s EcoSound technology was the first cloud aquatic mapping system designed to process sonar logs from off-the-shelf Lowrance® sonar and create maps of bathymetry, aquatic vegetation biovolume, and bottom hardness for aquatic resource professionals. Today, BioBase is the leading cloud software solution for automated lake and coastal seagrass mapping.
Between 2011 and 2014, the algorithm underwent five major revisions. The bottom hardness algorithm has undergone two major revisions, with the last one in 2014. Thus, our code base was due for an overhaul in order to maintain performance and compatibility with newer generation Lowrance and Simrad sonar. This refactoring effort was also an opportunity for us to improve the vegetation and bottom hardness algorithms. Many of these improvements also carry over sister consumer technology C-MAP Genesis, which uses many of the same algorithms and backend processing architecture
At BioBase, we are delighted to announce a new subscription model for EcoSound, created to ensure all customers can make the most out of the mapping platform.
Aligned with parent company Navico’s Environmental Sustainability Mission, and to support the widespread adoption of our technology to further the goals of aquatic conservation, BioBase will be providing free subscriptions (with up to 20 GB of storage) to Environmental Agencies, Non-Profits, and Universities engaged in aquatic resource management and research.
In order to make this a smooth transition for our current subscribers, we will move anyone with an unlimited Single-User or Single-Waterbody subscription into the appropriate full-featured Habitat+ subscription with sufficient storage until their subscription is due to expire in 2021.
FREE Subscriptions for Government, Universities and Environment Agencies
Current subscribers eligible for a free subscription should notice little change outside of being eligible for additional “freemium” subscriptions for their institution
Further, Navico will also be offering discounts of up to 25% on Lowrance hardware for US-Based agencies and universities.
BioBase’s primary strength is its power as an automated processing engine delivering high quality geospatial data layers on aquatic habitats with very little user input outside of the physical effort to drive a boat and passively log sonar over an area of interest. In addition to the online analysis tools within BioBase like the polygon tool and automated statistical reports, users can export raw depth, vegetation, and bottom hardness data along their track, in X,Y,Z grid format, Google Earth imagery, Lowrance or Simrad Charts, AND NOW ESRI SHAPEFILES OF DEPTH CONTOURS! This feature has been in high demand for survey companies and governments who require detailed water volume analysis for aquatic habitat and fisheries management. Below we walk you through some helpful tips about the feature and how to use it.
Example from a big lake:
Example from a small pond:
BioBase continues its mission to deliver water and fisheries resource professionals high value data products in the hopes that you can focus less of your efforts on making maps and more on the important tasks of research and conservation.
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.
Register your Lowrance or Simrad Chartplotter in your BioBase Account
2. Export the GPS Chart file from the desired EcoSound Trip or Merge from BioBase.
3. Unzip the downloaded file and save to a MicroSD card (<32 GB).
At C-MAP, we are excited to announce the release of a new feature that allows users to export exact replicates of their BioBase EcoSound maps as Google Earth images (.kmz and .kml; Figure 1). This YouTube video will walk you through how it’s done.
BioBase processed raw sonar logs and creates habitat maps with sophisticated algorithms. The outputs you see in BioBase are tiled georectified images (.png) of the outputs. The Google Earth feature converts the .png images to Google Earth’s .kml and .kmz file format. .kml downloads are smaller and reference the images on BioBase servers. .kmz downloads are larger and are exact copies of the images stored on our servers. The .kmz option is best for users who wish to archive local copies of their BioBase maps.
These images allow BioBase users to share spatial files with their stakeholders in a free Google format with which many are familiar and use regularly. Recipients can interact with the output zooming in and out to their desire and also adding custom logos and waypoints as they wish (Figure 2).
Further, there are a range of open source tools that will convert .kml and .kmz to GIS files for use in ESRI and QGIS products. Given the popularity and widespread use of .kml and .kmz files, there are a range of other applications that we are eager to hear about. Please feel free to share in the comments below.
Converting EcoSound .kml/.kmz files to ESRI Layers (.lyr)
Special thank you to Kevin Johnson and Jennifer Moran at FL Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for sharing a tutorial about how to convert .kml/.kmz files to ESRI Layer (.lyr) files for analysis and overlays in ESRI GIS products:
Open ArcToolbox > Conversion Tools > From KML > KML to Layer
Input KML File
Toggle to saved .KML file Lake_Kerr_Biobase.kml (example) > Open
Default output location is Documents\ArcGIS > Click the folder icon on right and toggle to appropriate folder
Output Data Name (Optional)
Will typically show the name of the kml, change if preferred
Select Checkbox for Include Ground Overlay (optional)
Only necessary for Raster data. Not necessary for lines/points/polygons
*This will take some time to process/load and will show up in ArcCatalog as “FileName.lyr”. Processing will depend on the file and image size. After it displays in the catalog, drag and drop or select Add Data to display the layer on the map.
**Arc GIS may shut down/disappear. You may not receive a green checkmark for execution completion. Reopen the program and go into your Catalog. Should not need to reconvert from .kml.