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Potential Depth Biasing Using the Biosonics VBT Seabed Classification Software

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The use of digital echosounders with post-processing commercial seabed classification software is becoming increasingly popular to create high-resolution resource maps of marine habitats over large scales. Here, we examine the Biosonics Visual Bottom Typing (VBT) seabed classification software (version 1.91). Although the VBT software uses potentially robust seabed classification parameters and has many useful features, a major drawback of the software is that it does not normalize echoes to a reference depth (typically the average survey depth). Depth normalizing adjusts for a change in echo length with depth. Without it, the VBT classification parameters that are calculated from the energy integral of the returned echo envelope over a fixed sampling window can be depth biased. The degree of misclassification from depth biasing will depend on the particular echosounder specifications (beamwidth (at −3dB) and pulse length) and characteristics of the survey area (depth variation and bottom acoustic diversity). Depth normalization applied before classification parameters are calculated is a very simple solution to potential depth-related misclassification and should be incorporated into the VBT software as a matter of priority to ensure its reliability and broad user application.
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Document Type: Short Communication

Publication date: 2005-06-01

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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