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NCCOS Maps Habitats of the U.S. Virgin Islands Insular Shelf

Published on: 04/12/2017
Research Area(s): Other Topics
Region(s) of Study: Waterbodies

NCCOS scientists conducted an accuracy assessment in the U.S. Virgin Islands from January 30 to February 13, 2017 to evaluate the thematic accuracy of a draft benthic habitat map of the South Eastern Puerto Rican Shelf. This new benthic habitat map will provide baseline information to help guide the monitoring and management of important coral reef habitats, spawning aggregation sites and MPAs in the USVI.



Data were collected with an HD drop camera at a total of 347 sites, ranging between 30-100 m in depth across the 665 km2 project area (map above). These data will be used by an independent scientist to quantitatively evaluate the accuracy of the draft map and provide information for updates to the map. Once evaluated and processed, the final map will support ongoing projects in the USVI:(1) a sampling design for the National Coral Reef Monitoring Program (NCRMP); (2) the placement of the acoustic array for the NOAA Marine Fisheries Initiative (MARFIN) project identifying spawning aggregations sites and migration pathways for queen trigger and mutton snappers; (3) a framework tool to prioritize sites for conservation; and (4) ongoing research of mesophotic reefs by the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI).

This project is in collaboration with several partners, including: NOAA Office of Coast Survey, NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, the US Geological Survey, the University of the Virgin Islands, USVI Department of Planning and Natural Resources, and the National Park Service (St. John).

For more information, please contact Kimberly Edwards.


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