Professional Spotlight – Dr. Chris Harrod and Chilean Kelp Mapping

Professional Spotlight

The Professional Spotlight series is a deep dive into the global BioBase community where we highlight the unique ways sonar driven mapping is assisting research, conservation and sustainability.

The BioBase team sat down with Dr. Chris Harrod for a look into how he uses BioBase. Chris (from the UK) is a full professor of Fish and Aquatic Ecology at the University of Antofagasta in Antofagasta, Chile. He does a mixture of research, teaching, and administration tasks but our interest with him was the applied research techniques for which he was using BioBase. His research is focused on a macroalgae called kelp (aka seaweed) and its importance as a source of food/energy to fish and invertebrates in the coastal zone. He is also interested in how kelp can function as habitat, food, an anchor of sediment and even slow the turbulent waters of the Pacific Ocean.

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Mapping and avoiding dense weed beds to get an edge while yacht racing

By Herb Garcia

Sailing enthusiast and BioBase Ambassador

Lake Minnetonka is one of the largest and most heavily used recreational lakes in Minnesota and is composed of an interconnected system of bays (Figure 1). Every summer, a rooted invasive aquatic plant, Eurasian watermilfoil creates thick bottom to surface mats in many areas of the lake. While these mats may occur anywhere on the lake, they generally are thickest in certain shallow areas such as the Diamond Reef area in the main lake of Lake Minnetonka (officially described as Lower Lake North). This reef is popular with anglers, power boaters, and sailors. On any given night or weekend, well over a hundred keelboats may take part in regular club racing events or regattas here. World class level sailors, including Olympic champions, America’s Cup, and other accomplished sailors regularly race on the lake and the competition can be intense. When competition is tight, every advantage is important.

Figure 1. Lake Minnetonka; a popular recreational and fishing lake just west of the Twin City metropolitan area of Minnesota. The red box highlights an area popular with boaters, anglers, and sailors. The blue contoured areas represent areas uploaded and processed by anglers using the Genesis mapping service and aggregated into the C-MAP social map. Social maps can also be viewed in the C-MAP App.

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Mapping seagrass with BioBase and saving Florida Manatees

Guest Blog by Robert M. Baker, CPG, PG (a) and Penelope R. Baker (b)

(a) Professional geologist at RMBAKER LLC and Navico BioBase Ambassador

(b) Stanford University student, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Wildlife Photographer

BioBase is a cloud software that directly supports the preservation of our aquatic environments. Words like preservation and conservation directly imply things like careful planning, measuring and monitoring, treatment and rehabilitation – actionable strategies for the good of animals, plants and natural resources where BioBase can play an important role. BioBase offers an opportunity to observe natural systems, like seagrasses, not easily seen otherwise and does so effortlessly and affordably.

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Properly install your Lowrance/Simrad transducer and mapping is easy with BioBase.

Ray Valley

Aquatic Biologist and BioBase Product Expert

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.

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Social mapping of Australian bays and conservation of Fish Aggregating Bryozoans

Guest Blog By Dr. Adrian Flynn(a) and Dr. Travis Dutka(b)

(a) Marine Ecologist and Director at Fathom Pacific

(b) Senior Lecturer at La Trobe University Department of Ecology, Environment, and Evolution.

The waters of Western Port in southeastern Australia are a recreational fishing haven and hidden beneath its turbid waters, a unique fragile seafloor community has been newly described.  Here, bryozoans, skeleton-forming filter-feeding organisms also known as ‘lace corals’, form expansive areas of reef that support a high diversity and abundance of macroinvertebrates important to snapper and other prized recreational fish species.

Figure 1: Underwater imagery of the bryozoan reefs revealed remarkable biogenic reef structures with abundant invertebrate life surrounded by large areas of bare sediment.

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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.)

SideBySideVegMaps

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
PlotterScreenshot
Assuming you have already recorded your sonar data and successfully uploaded to biobasemaps.com, log into your BioBase account. Click “Plotters”
AddDevice
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)
LowranceSystemAbout
Look in the “About” menu of your Chartplotter. Image above is from a Lowrance HDS Carbon.
SerialContentID
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.

ExportAT5
In the Export Data tool, select “GPS Chart Generation”
GPSChartGenerationModal
Export the desired layers

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

7-ZipAT5
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!

JosephineHeatMap
Insert the card with the saved AT5 chart files. Go to the Chart and select the appropriate Chart Source in Chart Options. Voilà!
JosephineCompositionAT5
Sample bottom hardness map from the same BioBase survey.
ChartCategories
If you want to view a blue- (or custom-) shaded contour map, simply uncheck the Vegetation/Composition categories in one of the Chart menus.
Screenshot_2020-05-18_14.11.44
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: tips and lessons learned

In the 8+ years BioBase has been in service, we’ve seen our share of sonar logs and maps (both good and bad).  We’ve learned some things and improved back-end processes that have resulted in you getting better maps processed faster. But we’ve also learned from you, our users, about strategies and techniques that result in better outcomes, and what to avoid.  Here are eight of those lessons learned:

1. Good transducer installation is critical

You could be the most experienced hydrographer in the world and execute the perfect survey design, but your map will be mostly worthless if your transducer is not securely attached to your boat or is slanted at an angle. We’ve devoted a fair amount to this topic in previous blogs, so we won’t dwell on it here. The two key take aways are: 1) ensure the transducer is installed straight in all directions keeping in mind the slant of the hull in the water fully loaded.  Replicate that tilt with your tongue jack when installing your transducer. 2) Install the transducer where the flow of water is smooth and laminar over the transducer face at all speeds. If you lose your transducer signal as the boat speeds up, you probably have an issue with cavitation (water turbulence) around the transducer face. Adjust the transducer height (sometimes only a very small amount) or move it away from rivets or anything else near the hull that could cause cavitation. One of the benefits of working with consumer devices like Lowrance and Simrad is that there is a wealth of online self-help resources and service centers that can help you install your transducer correctly.  A simple Google Search “Lowrance Transducer Installation” will turn up all the resources you need.  This one from Lowrance is one of our favorites.  If you have multiple survey boats and want to make your unit portable, I strongly recommend purchasing and installing multiple transducers on all of your boats rather than a portable transducer bracket.  In the grand scheme of things, consumer-sonar transducers are cheap and the consistent results you will get from a firmly mounted transducer is worth it!

5fadb-fig1_ducer_angle
Figure 1. Example of a slanted transducer and what affect it has on BioBase maps.  A simple Google Search of “transducer installation” will turn up many very good self help resources about how to properly install your transducer.

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