Sunken treasure? Giant squid? Great white sharks? Or just a whole lot of seaweed and clam shells? If you have ever spent a few hours on a slow watch gazing idly down at the undulating, reflective membrane of the ocean surface as you skim along the top, surely you have wondered what exactly it is that is down there beneath the keel.
Well, when you are near the shoreline in Island County, the answers are coming. The Island County Marine Resources Committee has put up a new tool called the SoundIQ Data System to collate and display reams and reams of information about the ocean floor and shorelines, covering everything from boat launches to trails to eelgrass beds to crab habitat. Looking for a good spot to go birdwatching? Curious about whether or not you just anchored in a bed of eelgrass? Want to know if that beach is a commercial shellfish operation? Want to know if there are any public landings nearby? Fire up your browser and check the map!
The system also provides a “Beach Report” feature that provides a wealth of information on specific shoreline areas, including access, wildlife commonly found in the area, details on the sub-tidal zone habitat including shellfish and kelp surveys, and as if all that weren’t enough, if there are any known reports or raw survey data available for the site, links are provided directly to the documents.
This all may be the most fun for GIS (Geographic Information System) geeks or serious researchers, but it’s also interesting stuff for the average boater with a little time to kill and a passing curiosity about what all is going on beneath the waves.
Update 29JUL11 2347PDT: Fixed broken link