Backscatter and water column data can be logged simultaneously when gathering bathymetry using Multibeam Echo Sounders (MBES).
Backscatter data provides information on the ‘hardness’ of the sea floor and is used to differentiate between different types of sea floor, such as hard rock or soft sediment. The data provides information on the sediment grain-size and sea floor roughness. These measurements can be used to characterise the environment (or habitat) where marine fauna live, and as such can be used to explain spatial patterns of sea floor biology and biodiversity at continuous scales.
Water column data enables 3-D mapping of fish schools and other mid-water marine organisms, assessing biological abundance, species identification, and habitat characterization. The data is also useful for mapping the heights of wrecks, underwater fresh water seeps, gas and oil seeps.
Discovery Marine uses purpose built survey vessels and vessels of opportunity, fitted with MBES, to gather both backscatter and water column data. The final products reveal the diversity and distribution of marine habitats and serve as a useful tool in marine management.