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Creation of Ultra-High Resolution Multibeam Sonar Images Targeting Deep-Sea Coral Habitats in Hudson Canyon

Project Goal

To produce a highly detailed map of Hudson Canyon that would reveal areas where deep-sea corals are found or are likely to be found, allowing for a targeted visual search that could contribute to determining whether or not regulatory protection is required.

Geographic Location

Hudson Submarine Canyon, an area of about 30 square miles located approximately 100 miles southeast of New York City


Existing very high resolution multibeam sonar data was digitally cleaned, corrected, and rendered into detailed maps using specialized sonar processing software. The maps were analyzed to reveal the geological structures and sediments associated with deep-sea corals in other locations. All of this information was combined with existing bottom photography and sediment data to create a map of sea-floor habitats with known or suspected associations with deep water corals.


A number of known and prospective coral habitat areas were located and mapped in Hudson Canyon. Furthermore, areas that suggest chemosynthetic communities (i.e. bottom animals living off energy from methane release rather than sunlight) were also discovered where they were previously unknown. Such habitats, among others, may support deep-sea corals.

Importance to Management

Maps from this project are currently being used to direct short-range visual searches for deep-sea corals and sponges in Hudson Canyon. Results of such searches will be used for making decisions regarding need for protection by Fisheries Management Councils.


Poster: http://niust.org/media/publications/AFS_poster_2011.pdf

Fiscal Year 2010 Funding


Point of Contact

Vincent G. Guida, Vincent.Guida@noaa.gov

This sun-shaded map was created by combining depth and bottom hardness data from multibeam sonar mapping with analysis of bottom photography for both sediment type and for organisms present, plus analysis of physical sediment samples.  A finder map in the upper right and corner shows the location of the canyon study area with respect to the mid-Atlantic coast and the continental shelf and slope. 

Credit: Martina Pierdomenico, NOAA Northeast Deep Sea Habitats Team.