Seagrass, reef fisheries, habitat mapping, recreational fisheries models, fisheries management
The continental shelf off Florida’s west coast is a mosaic of fish habitats including seagrass beds and carbonate reef outcroppings (hard bottom) classified by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) as Essential Fish Habitat. Habitat maps and community baseline data, however, are nonexistent for a majority of the region. This collaborative effort between Nova Southeastern University, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, NMFS and other scientists will characterize and map continental shelf seagrass and hard bottom habitats in nearshore areas fished by many recreational fishermen. Objectives include: 1) map hard bottom and seagrass beds using various data types including sonar and satellite imagery; 2) Conduct underwater remote and SCUBA diver surveys to validate the map and associate community information to habitat classifications; 3) Compare and integrate sonar and satellite maps; and 4) Develop recommendations as to how satellite data can best be utilized to improve survey scope and efficiency. Outputs provide the first hard bottom habitat map and baseline community characterization for 1,600 square kilometers of the West Florida continental shelf adjacent to Tampa Bay. Data were collected from December 2011 to June 2016.
Brian K. Walker, Rene Baumstark, Sean Keenan, and Cory Ames. 2017. Hardbottom Mapping and Community Characterization of the West-Central Florida Gulf Coast, December 2011 - June 2016 . https://nsuworks.nova.edu/occ_facdatasets/7.