Surveys refer to the description of a feature of the environment at one time – when these are repeated it is usually called monitoring. MScience design and field teams work closely during the survey concept and development phase to ensure that the scientific rigour of survey designs is matched against the practical needs of conducting the survey – often in remote areas where the field planning has to work the first time. The most common surveys we conduct are:
- Habitat mapping – especially for benthos and benthic primary producers;
- Bottom topography mapping to identify reefs or seabed relief;
- Sediment surveys, looking at sediment chemistry or particle sizing.
Mapping the distribution and community types of corals of Mermaid Sound and other parts of the Pilbara coast;
Large and small scale habitat mapping for benthic primary producers around islands in the Buccaneer Archipelago off Western Australia’s Kimberley Region;
Sediment chemistry or particle size studies are a frequent requirement for dredging projects and MScience has designed, permitted and conducted surveys for four major dredging programs in Mermaid Sound alone.
Seabed topography mapping surveys have been completed for projects looking to site infrastructure such as turbines or water intakes away from reef areas, and for locating hollows in the seabed where contaminants might accumulate: our scanning sonar provides rapid results, even in zero visibility conditions.
Our field teams use a variety of survey methods from rapid diver surveys to towed instruments to remote sensing. The bulk of most projects involves hard repetitive work from the dive team, who are well seasoned with the practical and academic skills to conduct these surveys to full commercial diving standards.
We also maintain our own sidescan sonar which, when coupled with the HYPAK V.9 analysis software, can provide detailed images of bottom type to 40m. This instrument is highly portable and can be run from dinghy-sized vessels.
Modern satellite imagery is invaluable for revealing large areas of seabed, where water clarity permits. We use these products routinely and have developed a close working with EoMap, a German company who specialise in remote sensing for marine applications, including habitat mapping and sediment plume detection.