Thursday, October 09, 2008

Updating the Underwater Charts

A reporter for the Suffolk Times saw a big boat on Long Island Sound, going back and forth along the north shore of Long Island, asked the simplest question -- what's that boat doing? -- and came up with a terrific story about an effort to update the NOAA nautical charts that sailors rely on. Here's what Eric Shultz writes:

With specialized echo sounders, multi-beam and side-scan sonars, this boat's mission is to update Long Island Sound's nautical charts, some of which haven't been updated in more than 100 years -- like a section near the coast off Orient Point with huge underwater boulders that have never before been documented.

A torpedo-shaped surveyor -- or moving vessel profiler -- sends an immediate picture to analysts on the boat:

That colorful picture, with reds indicating average and shallow depths and blues indicating deep crevasses, includes a 275-foot hole with a 77-foot hill next to it. It includes 30-foot underwater sand dunes and large boulders closer to shore. It includes shipwrecks old and new.

"A lot of wrecks are known," Mr. Wright said. "But many are not."

It's worth a read, here.


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