Can't Get There Without a Map
Over the past 10 years, geologist Gary Greene has been mapping the underwater habitats of the San Juan Islands through his research non-profit, Tombolo. SeaDoc and Tombolo have recently joined forces to create an underwater mapping lab for the Salish Sea.
On this page:
- Three short videos describing the seafloor habitats of Sucia Island.
- The full text of our Wildlife Post, in case you missed it. (And if you missed it, please sign up for email/snailmail updates with one of the links on this page -- top right or bottom center.)
- Geological highlights of Sucia Island.
- A cool photo of a sand lance emerging from gravel.
- What are subtidal sand waves?
- More info on our habitat mapping lab.
Video #1 shows the same image used in our Wildlife Post postcard. Dr. Gary Greene explains what we're looking at and how the map helps us understand underwater habitats for threatened species. If the video doesn't load, watch at http://youtu.be/ZoDplCxP1h8. Duration: 1:29.
Video #2 shows a different view of the same data. This is a habitat characterization map with both bathymetry data and color-coded habitat. If the video doesn't load, watch at http://youtu.be/F6V8RvRAX64. Duration: 1:37.
Video #3 explains how backscatter technology works to give scientists information about underwater geology. If the video doesn't load, watch at http://youtu.be/jmYsAfIidbA. Duration: 1:52.
You don’t go looking for lions on the Arctic tundra or for grizzly bears in the tropical rainforest – that is if you hope to find them. The topside world presents a wide variety of biomes inhabited by plants and animals adapted to survive in each special place. Our underwater world is no different. However, for researchers like those here at SeaDoc working on Salish Sea ecosystem recovery, it’s always been harder to protect threatened marine creatures and their critical underwater habitats simply because it’s so difficult to find them.
Beneath the surface of the Salish Sea lie a dazzling variety of habitats. We all know about kelp forests and eel grass meadows and the riot of life they support, but did you know that we have huge “sand waves” that shelter vast schools of sand lance and provide foraging environment for birds like tufted puffins and rhinoceros auklets? Or that all of the various bottom features scientists have identified – glacial moraines, earthquake-generated rock piles, vertical ice-cut rock walls and mud-filled bays and sounds – each support their own collection of animals?
SeaDoc’s exciting new Tombolo Seafloor Mapping Laboratory is addressing real-time conservation needs by pinpointing Salish Sea habitats. When your goal is to protect important marine creatures like our threatened rockfish species, you can’t get there without a map.
Sucia island is one of 172 named islands within the San Juan Archipelago. It is a spectacular horseshoe-shaped island composed of steeply dipping sedimentary rocks composed of shale, sandstone and conglomerate. The island owes its shape to the tectonic forces that have folded the sedimentary beds and glacial processes that ice-gouged the bays. The beautiful rock morphology of ledges, overhangs and caves provide critical habitat for rockfish and other marine organisms underwater and for birds on land. SeaDoc’s Tombolo mapping lab is in the process of mapping such islands as Sucia in detail to provide information that can be used to sustain and conserve the valuable ecosystem of the Salish Sea.
Sand waves are pretty interesting, and there isn't a lot of information on the web about them but we found a couple of articles about sand waves you might find interesting. At least one of them quotes Dr. Gary Greene.