HCNSO Student Theses and Dissertations

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Defense Date


Document Type

Thesis - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

Second Degree Name

M.S. Coastal Zone Management


Oceanographic Center

First Advisor

Samuel J. Purkis

Second Advisor

Bernhard Riegl

Third Advisor

Jeremy Montague


Florida Bay is a shallow, subtropical lagoon located south of the Florida mainland. Bordered by the Florida Keys to the east and south, and shallow mud banks to the west, the Bay is protected from wave action and is considered a low energy environment. Utilizing a 100 year bathymetric dataset the geomorphology of Florida Bay was examined to see if significant changes were occurring despite the lack of strong wave action and water circulation. Changes in bathymetry were investigated from using a high-resolution bathymetric dataset from 1890 and 1990. Analysis was concentrated on the three main ecological habitats of Florida Bay: seagrass beds, mud banks and basins. This study of changes in geomorphology revealed that percent coverage of seagrass beds was positively correlated to amount of shallowing, basins larger than 27 km2 have gotten deeper and the mud banks of Florida Bay have been migrating southward at approximately 1 m/y. The significant changes to bathymetry within Florida Bay reveal that the environment is quite dynamic despite being sheltered from open waters. Most importantly, the presence of the 1890 bathymetric dataset allows for remote sensing techniques to be used to follow geological processes.

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