Using smooth sheets to describe groundfish habitat in Alaskan waters, with specific application to two flatfishes

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In this analysis we demonstrate how preferred fish habitat can be predicted and mapped for juveniles of two Alaskan groundfish species – Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis) and flathead sole (Hippoglossoides elassodon) – at five sites (Kiliuda Bay, Izhut Bay, Port Dick, Aialik Bay, and the Barren Islands) in the central Gulf of Alaska. The method involves using geographic information system (GIS) software to extract appropriate information from National Ocean Service (NOS) smooth sheets that are available from NGDC (the National Geophysical Data Center). These smooth sheets are highly detailed charts that include more soundings, substrates, shoreline and feature information than the more commonly-known navigational charts. By bringing the information from smooth sheets into a GIS, a variety of surfaces, such as depth, slope, rugosity and mean grain size were interpolated into raster surfaces. Other measurements such as site openness, shoreline length, proportion of bay that is near shore, areas of rocky reefs and kelp beds, water volumes, surface areas and vertical cross-sections were also made in order to quantify differences between the study sites. Proper GIS processing also allows linking the smooth sheets to other data sets, such as orthographic satellite photographs, topographic maps and precipitation estimates from which watersheds and runoff can be derived. This same methodology can be applied to larger areas, taking advantage of these free data sets to describe predicted groundfish essential fish habitat (EFH) in Alaskan waters.




Zimmermann, M., Reid, J. A., & Golden, N. (2016). Using smooth sheets to describe groundfish habitat in Alaskan waters, with specific application to two flatfishes. Deep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography, 132, 210–226.

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