Today we welcomed Prof. (emeritus) Roger Flood of Stony Brook’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SOMAS) to discuss his work on side-scan sonar and multi-beam bottom mapping in the Great South Bay.

Prof. Flood provided historical context of bay bottom research, noting efforts date back to the 1930’s by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He also discussed the methodologies used for data collection and walked us through its interpretation.  It was a very revealing (no pun intended) presentation with interesting views of the Bay bottom from Bellport to Babylon showing areas of activity and the effects of mechanical dredging amongst other intriguing data.

ba·thym·e·try /bəˈTHimətrē/noun – the measurement of depth of water in oceans, seas, or lakes.

Some early conclusions included that the bottom of the Great South Bay is not composed of continuously grading sediment types; sonar reflectivity has revealed discrete, well defined habitats that correlate closely with hard clam abundance. Hard clams were most abundant in areas that presented a number of unique characteristics including 1) the presence of shell, 2) the presence of a thin layer of loose, fine‐grained material covering the shell, 3) a firm bottom underlying the loose material, and 4) a bathymetric gradient.

Prof. Flood ended his presentation drawing the following conclusions:

– Acoustic surveys provide important information about bay‐bottom characteristics which will aid in management decisions.

– “Ground Truth” data needs to be collected to verify acoustic interpretations. Acoustic data can extrapolate point measurements to larger areas.

– Acoustic data apparently shows the locations of old oyster reefs, but the interpretations need to be verified.

– New acoustic data will provide important information about how the bay bottom is evolving as shellfish populations increase.

View the full presentation here.

We look forward to continuously developing this data with input from our Baymen, oyster farmers and other stakeholders in our efforts to protect and preserve the Great South Bay.

PS – Check out the GSB Oyster Project photo gallery here!