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
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.
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.
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.
Fascinating study recently published in the esteemed scientific journal Ecology and Evolution demonstrating how Lowrance HDS and BioBase were used to create the first bathymetric and vegetation map of Lake Ossa in Cameroon, Africa. These maps along with other environmental data collected by researchers were used to create a habitat suitability model for the charismatic African Manatee, whose populations are now threatened in Africa due to habitat degradation.
This is an open access journal from Wiley and available here for download.
Below is the abstract
African manatee (Trichechus senegalensis) habitat suitability at Lake Ossa, Cameroon, using trophic state models and predictions of submerged aquatic vegetation
Aristide K. Takoukam, Dylan G. E. Gomes, Mark V. Hoyer, Lucy W. Keith-Diagne, Robert K. Bonde, Ruth Francis-Floyd,
First published: 07 October 2021
The present study aims at investigating the past and current trophic status of Lake Ossa and evaluating its potential impact on African manatee health. Lake Ossa is known as a refuge for the threatened African manatees in Cameroon. Little information exists on the water quality and health of the ecosystem as reflected by its chemical and biological characteristics. Aquatic biotic and abiotic parameters including water clarity, nitrogen, phosphorous, and chlorophyll concentrations were measured monthly during four months at each of 18 water sampling stations evenly distributed across the lake. These parameters were then compared with historical values obtained from the literature to examine the dynamic trophic state of Lake Ossa. Results indicate that Lake Ossa’s trophic state parameters doubled in only three decades (from 1985 to 2016), moving from a mesotrophic to a eutrophic state. The decreasing nutrient gradient moving from the mouth of the lake (in the south) to the north indicates that the flow of the adjacent Sanaga River is the primary source of nutrient input. Further analysis suggests that the poor transparency of the lake is not associated with chlorophyll concentrations but rather with the suspended sediments brought-in by the Sanaga River. Consequently, our model demonstrated that despite nutrient enrichment, less than 5% of the lake bottom surface sustained submerged aquatic vegetation. Thus, shoreline emergent vegetation is the primary food available for the local manatee population. During the dry season, water recedes drastically and disconnects from the dominant shoreline emergent vegetation, decreasing accessibility for manatees. The current study revealed major environmental concerns (eutrophication and sedimentation) that may negatively impact habitat quality for manatees. The information from the results will be key for the development of the management plan of the lake and its manatee population. Efficient land use and water management across the entire watershed may be necessary to mitigate such issues.
The rollout of the new BioBase EcoSound vegetation and bottom hardness algorithm required substantial refactoring of our core processing code. Read about the changes here. While we were under the hood, we took the opportunity to implement some enhancements that our frequent BioBase users should appreciate. NOTE: Users still select the unit (Imperial or Metric) in the primary user profile area of their BioBase account (My Account).
Ok, it’s a bit overdue. But better late than never! BioBase customers will now see an updated and enhanced viewer for their EcoSound and EcoSat. No longer will users have to struggle to get their map to fit within the little square box of the old viewer with a Bing zoom level that either zoomed too close and cut off parts of the waterbody, or too far to see detail. Below we show you a few screenshots of the major improvements. You can see for yourself by logging into your own account or clicking the Log into DEMO button on the home page of biobasemaps.com, finding a waterbody of interest, and click on the Analyze/Edit button.
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!
EcoSat is a first of its kind semi-automated satellite imagery processing tool that’s part of the BioBase cloud mapping platform (Figures 1 and 2). EcoSat is helping several US states and countries map and monitor the status of shallow growing aquatic vegetation and benthic habitats. In this blog, we discuss several tips and tricks about how practitioners can maximize the accuracy and precision of their EcoSat vegetation maps.