The structure of the seafloor and depth of the water are predictors of what may live there and what human uses may be appropriate for that area. Managers and scientists of marine protected areas, such as
NOAA Sanctuaries and National Estuarine Research Reserves, often use seafloor maps as a starting point from which to plan their monitoring and research programs. We use a variety of sonar devices to produce these maps, developing and validating new technologies to improve our accuracy and speed while reducing costs.
When possible, we integrate our seafloor maps with other spatially-based information.
BioMapper software offers easy access to aerial and acoustic imagery, benthic habitat data, survey sites, dive photography and underwater video, and related publications and the ability to create customized, printable
PDF maps for Puerto Rico, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Palmyra atoll in the Pacific.
Over the past decade, NCCOS seafloor mapping products have emerged as critical marine and coastal ecosystem management tools. View Mapping America's Coral Reefs, an interactive story map, to explore some of our mapping data and learn how managers and decision makers use maps while studying and protecting the nation's coral reefs. A full report summarizing NOS' shallow-water coral reef mapping efforts is also available.