The efficacy of using sidescan sonar imagery, image classification algorithms and geographic information system (GIS) techniques to characterize the seafloor bottom of the New York Bight were assessed. The resulting seafloor bottom type map was compared with fish trawl survey data to determine whether there were any discernable habitat associations. An unsupervised classification with 20 spectral classes was produced using the sidescan sonar imagery, bathymetry and secondarily derived spatial heterogeneity to characterize homogenous regions within the study area. The spectral classes, geologic interpretations of the study region, bathymetry and a bottom landform index were used to produce a seafloor bottom type map of 9 different bottom types. Examination of sediment sample data by bottom type indicated that each bottom type class had a distinct composition of sediments. Analysis of adult summer flounder, Paralichthys dentatus, and adult silver hake, Merluccius bilinearis, presence/absence data from trawl surveys did not show evidence of strong associations between the species distributions and seafloor bottom type. However, the absence of strong habitat associations may be more attributable to the coarse scale and geographic uncertainty of the trawl sampling data than conclusive evidence that no habitat associations exist for these two species.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Aquatic Science
- benthic habitat
- essential fish habitat
- geographic information systems (GIS)
- silver hake
- summer flounder