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Ground Truthing Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary Habitat Maps

Published on: 10/01/2019
Primary Contact(s): charles.menza@noaa.gov

Mapping bottom habitats in NOAA protected areas such as National Marine Sanctuaries and National Estuarine Research Reserves is important for characterizing and monitoring their submerged natural and cultural resources. As part of its marine spatial ecology mission, NCCOS scientists are mapping the bottom habitats of NOAA’s Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary (TBNMS) in Lake Huron, Michigan.

NCCOS project dive team member Phil Hartmeyer of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary takes photographs of the Sanctuary lakebed to ground truth acoustically-derived bottom habitat maps. Credit NOAA NCCOS.

In the scientific discipline of remote sensing, “ground truthing” refers to the collection of information on location to verify, interpret, and calibrate remotely-sensed data. NCCOS scientists Ayman Mabrouk and Charles Menza use a “drop camera” and scuba dive to the lake bottom of TBNMS taking underwater pictures to ground truth remotely sensed, acoustically-derived bottom maps.

The mapping and follow-up ground truthing missions are part of a one-year research project funded by NCCOS to support management of underwater resources in the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Once the mapping is finished, sanctuary scientists and managers will have new high resolution maps of invasive mussel distributions, shipwrecks, and important fish habitats.

NCCOS scientist Ayman Mabrouk scuba dives in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary ground truthing acoustically–derived bottom habitat maps. Credit A. Mabrouk, NOAA.

To learn more about the acoustic mapping and ground-truthing missions of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, see the NCCOS news story and the dive video and news story featuring project leader Charles Menza courtesy of WBKB 11 News, Alpena, Michigan.

For more information, contact Charlie Menza.


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