Amongst the sand- and mud-dominated bottoms of the bay are unique habitats teeming with life. Rocky substrates, called hard bottom, can be covered with sponges, soft corals, algae, and live rock, and attract commercially- and recreationally important fish species. Oysters often form large bars amongst the Bay’s shallow waters and manmade structures, and tidal flats are non-vegetated, shallow-water habitats, valued as feeding areas by wading birds. Maps covering portions of Tampa Bay for these relatively rare habitat types have been created. While tidal flats have been mapped for decades, oysters were first identified on seagrass maps in 2014. To map hard bottom, often found in deeper portions of the bay, side-scan sonar that uses sound waves to detect habitat features was used. Results were verified with GIS and underwater videos.
Mapping Bay Bottom Habitats
Jun 8, 2020 | TBERF