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.”
What is BioBase? BioBase is composed of two different products, EcoSound and EcoSat. Ecosat processes satellite imagery to create shallow vegetation and benthic habitat maps. While, EcoSound uses off-the-shelf sonar technology and automatic cloud processing to create professional bathymetry, bottom composition, and aquatic vegetation maps. BioBase removes the labor intensive and high cost elements of acquiring high quality data very quickly so you can focus your efforts on aquatic resource management.
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.