Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


College of Arts and Sciences


Biology, MS

First Advisor

Daniel Gonzalez-Socoloske

Second Advisor

James L. Hayward

Third Advisor

Robert Zdor


In this study, the reliability of low cost side-scan sonar to accurately identify soft substrates such as grass and mud was tested. Benthic substrates can be hard to classify from the surface, necessitating an alternative survey approach. A total area of 11.5 km2 was surveyed with the sonar in a large, brackish mangrove lagoon system. Individual points were ground-truthed for comparison with the sonar recordings to provide a measure of accuracy. Five substrate types were identified: Dense seagrass, sparse seagrass, mangrove soil, mangrove soil with rock, and silt. A zoned benthic substrate map was created from the sonar recordings. Dense seagrass was most accurately identified. Sparse seagrass had the lowest accuracy. A bathymetric map was also created from the sonar recordings. Manatee sighting locations were overlaid on these maps to preliminarily assess habitat use. Most manatee sightings occurred in areas 2–6 m deep and characterized as mangrove soil.

Subject Area

West Indian manatee--Habitat, Habitat (Ecology)

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.


Included in

Biology Commons