A team of scientists, engineers, and technical divers have been mapping the coral
reefs around the Caribbean island of Bonaire using Autonomous Underwater Vehicles
(AUVs). Support for one of the AUV mission teams has been provided by Tom Hiller
and James Baxter of GeoAcoustics, running a compact GeoSwath wide swath bathymetric
sonar mounted on an AUV.
The Bonaire mission has been funded by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA). The Bonaire mission aims to use novel technology to enhance
knowledge of the coral reef environment, and to motivate people to take action to
sustain the reefs. The work in Bonaire has an especially high profile in 2008, which
is the International Year of the Reef.
The Bonaire expedition is being led by Mark Patterson of the Virginia Institute
of Marine Science (VIMS), along with co-Principal Investigators Arthur Trembanis
(University of Delaware), Jim Leichter and Dale Stokes (Scripps Institution of Oceanography).
Dr. Trembanis has recently placed an order for a GeoSwath-equipped Gavia for Coastal
Sediments, Hydrodynamics, and Engineering Laboratory (CSHEL) at the University of
At the time of writing the Gavia and GeoSwath have already proven their usefulness
in Bonaire, with multiple missions completed from various beaches and jetties around
the island. Data has been collected from shoreline missions and down to the 200m
More background, progress reports, and teaching material can be found on NOAA's
Ocean Explorer website: www.oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/.