Project Description: Filling in the “White Zone”: New Methods for Interpolating Seafloor Attribute in California’s Critical Unmapped Nearshore Habitats

Summary

California recently invested over ten million dollars to collect and ground-truth seafloor data to create bathymetric, geologic, and habitat maps for a large portion of its nearshore marine habitats; these datasets were essential for the design of California’s marine protected area (MPA) network, and are currently informing ongoing management. However, the existing seafloor maps contain a critical gap—the very nearshore zone, where navigation hazards and technical limitations prevented ship-board mapping. This 50-500m wide band of unmapped seafloor, a data gap known as the “white zone”, extends from shore to 10-15m depth along the length of the California coast, encompassing much of the state’s kelp forests and essential habitat for commercially and recreationally important species. Improved mapping of the white zone has been repeatedly identified as an area of critical data need, yet the costs and labor associated with empirically mapping this zone statewide are prohibitive. We propose to leverage the wealth of seafloor and shoreline mapping data available through the California’s Seafloor Mapping Program (CSMP), to develop predictive maps of substrate characteristics in the white zone. We will incorporate additional data types (e.g. LiDAR data, satellite-based kelp data), then test and ground-truth our predictions in key areas using the innovative, hybrid nearshore mapping vehicle, the R/V Kelpfly.

Student Involvement

AStudents will be involved in the predictive habitat tasks but not the ground-truthing data collection by the R/V Kelpfly.

Broader Significance

This project will create refined methodologies for addressing gaps in seafloor data, as well as create as suite of products (white zone maps, population estimates) that will be directly useful for informing management of both fishery and MPA mandates. It efficiently leverages California’s vast investment in seafloor data collection to address documented, high-priority needs of coastal and marine managers, researchers, and policy makers (CSMP 2014).

IfAME PI

Dr. Rikk Kvitek

Financial Support

UC Santa Cruz

Field Support

CSUMB R/V Kelpfly

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