- Operations - FarSounder joins sea mapping project

By SuperyachtNews

FarSounder joins sea mapping project

The forward-looking sonar technologies manufacturer has partnered with The Nippon Foundation to aid scientific research on the seafloor…

FarSounder has partnered with The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project in the pursuit of mapping the entire seabed in a bid to advance the collective understanding of the seafloor. The new alliance coincides with the sonar technology manufacturer's new project development, which utilises a form of passive scientific research.

“FarSounder plays a central role in championing crowdsourced bathymetry – which is essential to Seabed 2030,” says Jamie McMichael-Phillips, Project Director, Seabed 2030. “We look forward to working together, and look forward to following the company’s journey as it embarks upon its exciting new project.”

Seabed 2030 is a collaborative project between The Nippon Foundation and the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO), which seeks to inspire the complete mapping of the world’s oceans by 2030 and to compile all the data into the freely available GEBCO Ocean Map.

The partnership aligns with FarSounder's recent success in securing a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This grant aims to support the research and development of the sonar technologies manufacturer’s project designed to create a cloud-based service for the sharing of survey data collected by its clients.

The accumulation of the data will be facilitated through the International Hydrographic Organization's (IHO) Data Centre for Digital Bathymetry (DCDB), serving as the enduring archive for Seabed 2030.

FarSounder bridge readout 

Forward-looking sonar (FLS) systems made by FarSounder are underwater imaging devices that use sound waves to create a detailed, real-time picture of the underwater environment surrounding a vessel. Early iterations have lacked the resolution and reliability to give watchkeepers confidence in navigating poorly chartered waters. However, significant developments have been made by several manufacturers in the past decade.

A common misconception when looking at a large-scale chart is that there is a reliable level of resolution on the seafloor. According to Seabed 2030, less than 25 per cent of the world’s oceans have been surveyed at all, and much of this only at 100-metre resolution.

When referencing that data input on a navigational chart, especially those from more remote locations, often the survey is from pre circa 1940 (and the invention of sonar). What this means in practice is that, despite being recorded with specificity, it was probably recorded with nothing more accurate than a lead weight and a line.

As the technology supporting FLS systems has developed, so too has the depth of data they collect. With on-board storage of this data, a superyacht can theoretically manoeuvre with confidence across known tracks, such as reentering a lagoon or harbour entrance.

This data also presents a significant opportunity to contribute to a wider scientific purpose. “Our commitment to contributing high-resolution data to the IHO’s DCDB aligns seamlessly with Seabed 2030's mission of achieving a complete map of the entire ocean floor,” says Matthew Zimmerman, CEO, FarSounder.

“By streamlining the transfer of data from customers to the DCDB we hope to encourage broader participation, inviting more individuals to actively contribute to bridging the gaps in our understanding of the ocean.”

All data collected and shared with the Seabed 2030 project is included in the free and publicly available GEBCO global grid.

Zimmerman will feature in a discussion on intellectual collaboration at TSF: Connect next week alongside Enrico Della Valentina of MARIN and Jon Rysst from DNV. The trio will explore how industry leaders are learning from one another and how to share valuable information but maintain privacy and a competitive edge.

Tickets are in limited supply, but you can still register your attendance here.

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FarSounder joins sea mapping project


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