Overlay Maps of Individual Species with Other Marine Life, Human Use, and Environmental Data

August 1, 2017

In the latest effort to build more robust functionality for Northeast Ocean Data Portal users, all maps for individual species of marine mammals, birds, and fish from the Marine-life Data and Analysis Team mapping effort are now available in the Data Explorer—a comprehensive map on which you can choose to view any combination of data on human activities, marine life, and the environment. It is now possible to view the distribution and abundance of hundreds of individual species with any other datasets on Northeast Ocean Data.

Previously, users had the capability only to overlay marine life summary products—layers that grouped species by taxa, ecological similarity, regulatory group, or stressor sensitivity—with any other layers. Now, users can select an individual species and time period, and overlay it with data on human activities and environmental characteristics, or even other individual species or marine life summary products. Recent enhancements to the Data Explorer’s map customization functionality offer expanded options for visualizing the individual species data.

Example: Cod biomass and fishing vessel activity

The Data Explorer screenshot below shows cod biomass data (colored circles) from trawl surveys (fall 2005–2014) overlaid onto a map of fishing vessel activity (colored areas). The fishing vessel data, which represent multispecies (groundfish) vessel activity at less than four knots (2011–2014), were ghosted onto the map using the map layer transparency slider to make the cod data easier to see. Click on the map to see a larger screenshot. Click on the blue button to open an interactive version of this map in the Data Explorer.

Example: Right whale abundance and ship traffic

This example shows North Atlantic right whale abundance in March (colored squares) overlaid onto a map of commercial vessel traffic (2013).

Example: Haddock biomass and total demersal fish biomass on Georges Bank

The ability to examine MDAT individual species products in the Data Explorer allows data exploration with a greater focus. As an example, a user who had previously identified the distribution and biomass of the demersal fish species group as an important pattern can now add individual species from that group to examine which species may be contributing to spatial patterns in those data. This screenshot shows haddock biomass (colored circles) overlaid on total biomass of demersal fish (colored squares) on Georges Bank.

Demo Video

This video demonstrates some of the new functionalities that are possible with the individual species layers in the Data Explorer. As an example, the video shows how datasets for two bird species—long-tailed duck and surf scoter—can be overlaid with maps of habitat and environmental characteristics such as shellfish habitat and water depth. Shellfish are an important food source for some seabirds, and by overlaying shellfish habitats with the relative abundance of these birds, users could formulate hypotheses about what might be influencing marine life distribution and abundance.

Northeast Ocean Data provides data and maps for the Northeast Ocean Plan.