Buck Island Reef National Monument (BUIS) in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands Shallow Water Environments Mapped
Scientists from the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, in cooperation with the National Marine Fisheries Services’s Chesapeake Bay Office and the National Park Service, collected acoustic imagery describing the depth and physical properties of BUIS’s shallow-water (≥ 5 and ≤ 50 m) habitats. These images were collected using a multibeam SoNAR sensor well suited for mapping marine environments between 5 and 75 meters deep. The resulting 20 km2 of depth and intensity imagery fills a critical information gap about the topography of BUIS’s shallow-water areas. These images will subsequently be integrated with Light Detection and Ranging imagery collected in the monument’s near-shore waters (≤ 5 m) and with MBES imagery collected in the monument’s deeper waters (≥ 50 and ≤ 2,000 m) to create a seamless habitat map of the entire Marine Protected Area. This final habitat map will be used by local NPS managers as a baseline for resources assessments, as a guide for present and future biological monitoring efforts, and as a tool to support spatially-explicit management decisions.