The NOAA Office for Coastal Management, in partnership with Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, the NROC Habitat Classification and Ocean Mapping Subcommittee, and other entities, has developed a repeatable workflow and methodology to develop a regional seafloor geomorphology data set for collaborative planning and assessment offshore in the Gulf of Maine.

Three Seascapes layers can be found in the Data Explorer within the Habitat > Physical Category.

Screenshot of Data Explorer interactive map.

Screenshot of Data Explorer showing Seascapes – CMECS Geoform Category 1 map layer.

Seascapes products are Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard (CMECS)-compliant geoforms derived from the seamless Blue Topo data from NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey. Portal users can overlay the Seascapes data with the Blue Topo layer by selecting it in the Data Explorer under Bathymetry & Imagery.

The maps show different bottom types, such as rocky areas, shoals, and moraines. CMECS is a structured catalog of ecological terms that also provides a framework for interpreting, classifying, and inter-relating observational data from all types of sensors and platforms. CMECS Geoforms describe the major geomorphic and structural characteristics of the coast and seafloor. The data download package includes additional data layers and the data development report for a description of data inputs, methods, and QA processes.

The Seascapes map products show how interrelating seafloor components and habitat areas across the region are distributed. The map provides a regional view of the Gulf of Maine from the highest annual tide on the coast out to 24 nautical miles. In addition to providing a general understanding of the region’s benthic habitat, Seascapes can be used to understand where known sensitive habitat areas exist that could trigger extra precautions during project construction and operation or that may need to be avoided, which may assist the public and permitting organizations understand potential impacts of proposed projects.

NOAA OCM and the partners who produced Seascapes for the Gulf of Maine are working on extending the methodology to Southern New England next. Southern New England Seascapes products are expected to be available in 2024.