Anthropogenic wastes, toxic chemicals, and changes in land-use patterns resulting from residential, commercial, and recreational development have stressed the environment of the Sound, causing degradation and potential loss of benthic habitats (Koppelman and others, 1976; Long Island Sound Study, 1994). Detailed maps of the sea floor are needed to help evaluate the extent of adverse impacts and to help manage resources wisely in the future. Therefore, in a continuing effort to better understand Long Island Sound, we have constructed and interpreted multibeam bathymetric data within specific areas of special interest. The outline of the composite acoustic data from surveys H11252 and H11361 in Geographic presented herein covers a roughly 156 km square area of the sea floor in the area just west of Six Mile Reef, eastern Long Island Sound. The original multibeam bathymetric data were collected during 2004 as part of charting applications aboard the NOAA Survey Vessel Thomas Jefferson. A Simrad EM1002 multibeam system mounted on the hull of this vessel was used to acquire data along survey lines from the deeper water (>20 m) parts of the study area. Two 29-foot launches with hull-mounted Reson systems were deployed from the ship and were used to acquire data along survey lines from the shallower areas.
Detailed bathymetric data and their interpretations serve many purposes, including: (1) defining the geological variability of the sea floor, which is one of the primary controls of benthic habitat diversity; (2) improving our understanding of the processes that control the distribution and transport of bottom sediments and the distribution of benthic habitats and associated infaunal community structures; and (3) providing a detailed framework for future research, monitoring, and management activities. The bathymetric data models also serve as base maps for subsequent sedimentological, geochemical, and biological observations, because precise information on environmental setting is important for selection of sampling sites and for accurate interpretation of point measurements.
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