Oculina Coral Banks 2003
Daily At-Sea Logs
May 4th, 2003

May 4, 03

Oculina GIS: Exploration Roadmap

By: Andrew Shepard, Assoc. Director,
National Undersea Research Center at the University of North Carolina Wilmington

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are essentially organized collections of geospatial data—mapped information. They are very good for viewing and analyzing large varied datasets from a geographic region. Inputs include graphics and tables of point data. The graphics are often geotif map images that are accurately placed within a standard geographic network—there are many in the U.S. If the coordinate system that was used when the data was collected is known, then the geotif maps can be precisely overlain on top of each other within a GIS.

Oculina GIS organizes data sets from the past 30 years, with a Web interface for much of these data. (figure 1)

NOAA Fisheries, primary sponsor of this expedition, is also supporting development of an Oculina GIS (OGIS) to integrate the various data sets that have been collected in the Oculina Banks marine protected area over the past three decades. The list currently includes:

· NOS single-beam echosounder bathymetric (depth) chart data from the 1960s (their latest surveys)
· J. Reed submersible visual observations from the 1970s and 1980s
· K. Scanlon, USGS, side-scan sonar survey data and related habitat maps from 1995
· submersible and ROV data (video and still imagery, dive narratives, transect data) from the Islands in the Stream 2001 expedition (oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/iis2001)
· multi-beam echosounder bathymetric chart data from 2002 (oceanica.cofc.edu/oculina2002).

High-resolution multi-beam survey from 2002 is one of geotifs in OGIS. (figure 2)

Data sets to be added in the next year include:

· J. Reed imagery from submersible dives in the 1970s and 1980s
· K. Scanlon grab sample surveys from 1995 to 2003
· ROV data (imagery, dive narratives, transect data) from this 2003 expedition.

The value of OGIS has been realized in planning and carrying out this year’s expedition. Our ROV dive sites were precisely located on the high resolution multi-beam map. We were able to easily target features and areas that we knew had never been explored before, or had not been explored in the past 20 years. OGIS images were exported to the software used to direct the ROV dives by the pilot and ship. Handy tools included with the ESRI ArcView program include quick ways to measure distance, depth, and position.

OGIS graphics imported to the ROV positioning software helped the pilot and ship direct ROV dives. (figure 3)

The South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council and many other coastal management groups now have GIS experts on staff. OGIS will undoubtedly become part of a larger regional system in development for South Atlantic Bight offshore habitats. We all realize the need to know where we have been and where we are going.

Some OGIS datasets can now be viewed online at www.uncw.edu/oculina.

Ph. 843-953-7263
Project Oceanica
Dept. of Geology & Environmental Geosciences
College of Charleston
Charleston, SC 29424
Fax 843-953-7850