Monday, 2 December 2013 Back to News

'Mapping The Deep' Project

Researchers at Plymouth University Aim To Map The Deep Sea Habitats Of Our Coastline

Scotland is surrounded by the deep, blue ocean masses of the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The marine environment off the Scottish coast is the lucrative home of fishing boats and oilrig platforms, contributing a large portion of the country's economy. Despite this, we know more about the surface of the moon than we do about the ocean floor.

As part of MAREMAP, researchers at Plymouth University plan to change that.

Led by Dr. Kerry Howell, the 'Mapping the Deep' project is leading the field of deep-sea habitat mapping in producing the first high quality, high-resolution maps of the seabed. Funded by the Oak Foundation and BBC Wildlife, it makes up one part of the MAREMAP Project's mission to map the entire seabed of the UK marine environment.

The accurate data and visual representations of the seabed will provide marine environmental managers with the information they need to make responsible and informed decisions about where, and to what level, to allow human activities such as commercial fishing. By locating and mapping vulnerable habitats it will also accurately outline the areas that need to be placed under Marine Protection.

Ultimately, these maps will allow us to use the considerable energy and raw material potential of the marine environment in a sustainable and responsible way.

The Mapping the Deep Project is using state of the art equipment such as multi-beam and remotely operated vehicles, and various modeling techniques, to monitor and map different habitats, and the environmental conditions in which they thrive. This knowledge and data means that it will be able to predict where else similar habitats might be found.

The hope is to create a fool-proof and thoroughly tested model of predictive habitat mapping to apply in other marine environments around the UK and to help target future surveys and conservation work.

'Mapping the Deep' is taking us one step closer to understanding the last true wilderness on Earth.