The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), on the behalf of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, awarded a contract to CSA Ocean Sciences Inc., a marine environmental consulting firm, to review existing survey data to identify and describe potential hard-bottom areas in shallow, federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

While much of the Gulf of Mexico seafloor is comprised of soft sediments, habitats with hard substrate are scattered across the shelf. These hard-bottom habitats attract corals and encrusting organisms, provide shelter to invertebrates and fish, are often high in biodiversity and biomass, and are sensitive to disturbance.

BOEM is continuously making efforts to improve its understanding of the location of hard-bottom habitats in the Gulf of Mexico in order to avoid or mitigate potential impacts to these benthic resources from BOEM-regulated activities. To improve this understanding, CSA’s team of geophysical experts will be working in close coordination with the BOEM project team to review survey data to identify and describe potential hard-bottom areas. The resulting inventory of potential hard-bottom habitat locations will be used to improve and update maps used by BOEM for decision-making and will ultimately be shared with BOEM’s partners and the public.

CSA has worked with BSEE and BOEM since the 1980s to provide a range of services for projects involving energy and mineral resources on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf. Specific to this project, CSA’s team members have extensive experience designing and collecting survey data using side-scan sonar, sub-bottom profilers, multi-beam echosounders, and 2D and 3D seismic technologies; reviewing geophysical survey products, maps, and reports based on bathymetry, backscatter, and amplitude data; and interpretation of survey products to extract information on seafloor characteristics, including sediment texture and the presence of hard-bottom habitat, other sensitive habitats such as seagrasses and oysters, and archaeological features.

CSA Ocean Sciences Inc. brings nearly five decades of experience in marine environmental consulting, preparing environmental assessments worldwide through offices in the U.S, the Eastern Mediterranean, Qatar, Trinidad, Brazil, and Australia. CSA’s expertise in coastal, marine, and deep ocean surveys is built on the integration of science, operations, and an understanding of environmental data collection, management, and analysis within geospatial domains.