Exposed stones in sandy sublittoral environments are hotspots for marine biodiversity, especially for benthic communities. The detection of single stones is principally possible using sidescan-sonar (SSS) backscatter data. The data resolution has to be high to visualize the acoustic shadows of the stones. Otherwise, stony substrates will not be differentiable from other high backscatter substrates (e.g., gravel). Acquiring adequate sonar data and identifying stones in backscatter images is time consuming because it usually requires visual-manual procedures. To develop a more efficient identification and demarcation procedure of stone fields, sidescan sonar and parametric echo sound data were recorded within the marine protected area of “Sylt Outer Reef” (German Bight, North Sea). The investigated area (~5.900 km2
) is characterized by dispersed heterogeneous moraine and marine deposits. Data from parametric sediment echo sounder indicate hyperbolas at the sediment surface in stony areas, which can easily be exported. By combining simultaneous recorded low backscatter data and parametric single beam data, stony grounds were demarcated faster, less complex and reproducible from gravelly substrates indicating similar high backscatter in the SSS data.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited