USING A MULTIBEAM ECHOSOUNDER TO MONITOR AN ARTIFICIAL REEF
Keywords: Artificial reef, multibeam echosounder, bathymetry, scouring, seafloor mapping, bulk volume
Abstract. Artificial reefs (ARs) have become popular technological interventions in shallow water environments characterized by soft seabed for a wide number of purposes, from fisheries/environmental protection and enhancement to research and tourism.
AR deployment has the potential for causing significant hydrographical and biological changes in the receiving environments and, in turn, ARs are strongly affected by the surrounding area in terms of spatial arrangement and structural integrity as well as colonization by benthic communities and finfish.
In this context, ARs require a systematic monitoring program that a multibeam echosounder (MBES) can provide better than other sampling methods such as visual dives and ROV inspections that are not quantitative and often influenced by water visibility and diver experience/skills.
In this paper, some subsequent MBES surveys of the Senigallia scientifically-planned AR (Northern Adriatic Sea) are presented and state-of-the art data processing and visualization techniques are used to draw post-reef deployment comparisons and quantify the evolution of the reef in terms of spatial arrangement and bulk volume.
These multibeam surveys play a leading part in a general multi-year program, started simultaneously with the AR design and deployment and aimed to map how the reef structure quantitatively changes over time, as well as it affects the sea-bottom morphology and the fishery resource.
All the data, surveyed over years making use of different sampling methods such as visual and instrumental echosounding observations and catch rate surveys, gain a mechanistic and predictive understanding of how the Senigallia AR functions ecologically and physically across spatial and temporal scales during its design life