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Aqua Explorers, Inc.

Side Scan Sonar for Shipwreck Exploration and Discovery
Marine Sonic Sea Scan PC Side Scan Sonar for near photographic images of the ocean floor.

side scan sonar shipwreck survey sea scan pc

Valerie E shipwreck side scan sonar shipwreck survey sea scan pc

Dive Wreck Valley Side Scan Sonar Video

click above to view Capt. Dan Berg's Dive Wreck Valley Side Scan Sonar episode. This video is available free online on Google videos.

Check out the Wreck Valley Multi-Media Shipwreck CD It comes complete with the Marine Sonic Side Scan Review Program! Now you can open local shipwreck side scan images, measure, enlarge, print images etc! All on your own computer!

Aqua Explorers Inc., is proud to announce a joint project with Marine Sonic Technology of Virginia to side scan survey the shipwrecks off New York and New Jersey. Known as Wreck Valley this area has literally hundreds of shipwrecks hidden beneath the sometimes harsh Atlantic's surface. Vessels sunk here range in age, material, construction as well as depth. The research project will be jointly funded by both companies and will utilize a new state of the art sonar developed by Marine Sonic. According to Dan Berg, President of Aqua Explorers and author of ten shipwreck related books. "The new affordable technology of this sonar will enable sport divers to accurately find, survey, measure, map and even identify many wreck sites. The main advantage of Marine Sonic's side scan unit is that it does not merely print out a hard black and white paper recording but rather incorporates a personal computer to store live color images of each site. These images can be enhanced, enlarged, and even measured giving us more information then ever before without even putting a diver into the water. Of course if a paper record is needed a color print can be generated on any color printer. Called the Sea Scan Pc we have already had great success scanning the waters off Long Islands South Shore. I was amazed at how well the Sea Scan functioned even on small low lying wrecks. We can scan upwards of a football field to either side of the boat while generating images that are as clear and detailed as a photograph. The system also incorporates a plotter built into the Sea Scan software. The PC is interfaced with either a GPS or Loran for location and speed information. We can then mark wrecks on the screen and utilize the plotter to navigate directly to the site. In the past it would sometimes take upwards of six months to develop an underwater sketch of a shipwreck site. Now we can do it in a day with greater accuracy and much greater detail."

How to SHIPWRECK DIVING Guide By Capt Dan Berg

Side Scan Sonar Shipwreck images

Side Scan sonar image of the USS San Diego shipwreck   Side Scan image of the Cornelia Soule shipwreck
Side scan image of the Hylton Castle shipwreck   side scan sonar image of the Relief Ship wreck.
Side scan image of the Steel Wreck schooner. Note the port and starboard ribs.   Side scan image of the RC Mohawk Shipwreck.
Side scan image of the Pipe Barge. Long shadow indicating highest relief on the site.   Side scan image of the SS Mohawk off NJ.
Side scan image of the Iberia shipwreck. Note engine which provides highest relief on the site.   Wreck of the Stone Barge off Long Island NY.


Side Scan Sonar by Daniel Berg

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Searching for shipwrecks has always been a difficult and sometimes costly endeavor. There are several methods divers have used to conduct these searches. In many cases, divers would go out to check "hang numbers" from a local fishing boat. The spot which caused the fisherman's rig to "hang" could be anything from a single pipe to a virgin wreck. Other divers have invested time and money in machines like proton magnetometers which register anomalies when passed over any metallic object. Targets produced would then be investigated by the divers who could find the metallic object, which many times produced only 55 gallon drums. Some sophisticated wreck hunters even utilize side scan sonars which use sound waves to scan the ocean floor. In the past these machines could cost up to $100,000. Underwater searching technology has just entered the twentieth century and wreck hunters now have a new toy. Mike McMeekin and I met Doug Blaha from Marine Sonic Technology, Ltd at DEMA 95. Doug demonstrated to us some barge and wreck images he had stored in his computer. The images were so impressive that we arranged for a real life ocean demonstration. Seeing is believing in my eyes.

Marine Sonic Sea Scan PC In the spring of 1995 Doug Blaha and Pete Wilcox of Marine Sonic came to New York to demonstrate Marine Sonics new Sea Scan PC Side Scan Sonar. This new patented technology is so advanced and yet comparably affordable that it was hard to believe Doug's claims. Doug first explained that the best way to "see" underwater is with sound. Underwater, light is quickly diffused and very ineffective. Even the brightest light yields only a few feet of visibility. A good analogy is a room filled with thick heavy smoke. Bright lights are nearly useless but sound travels well through the room. Fisherman have employed fish finding sonars for years with good success. Fish finding sonars look down through the water and display objects appearing above the bottom. Side scan sonar is engineered to look sideways through the water. Doug explained that the Sea Scan PC Side Scan Sonar was unique in at least three significant areas, cost, performance and operability. He claimed that the Sea Scan PC was an affordable, high tech system featuring performance unequaled by systems costing three times as much or more. It is portable, easy and contains features only made possible with a high performance personal computer.

Cost was, of course, the first thing that went through my mind. Marine Sonic utilizes a PC instead of a dedicated processor. PC's are manufactured in the millions thus significantly reducing one of the most expensive components of a side scan system. Added benefits from the PC are an integrated plotter for navigation, digital processing, filtering and enhancement of data and the ability to store images on disk rather than the hard thermal paper normally associated with most side scan systems.

Towfish DeploymentWe boarded the Wreck Valley joined by Captain Steve Bielenda, Captain John Lachenmayer and Mike McMeekin and started to scan shipwrecks. Marine Sonics fresh approach to side scan technology comes from the medical field.  Using low power and extremely low noise electronics, the sonar emits very short, precision pulses in narrow focused beams to produce clean, crisp near photographic images. Pete demonstrated how easy it was to deploy and tow their transducer carrying fish tow. They then interfaced the computer with the Wreck Valley's loran and brought up a plotter display. We then inputted the TD's of a known shipwreck and were able to not only see a visual reference (Marker) of the wreck on the plotter, but also the position and the area we had already scanned. Doug showed how a simple key stroke changed the scanning distance or swath width. The unit is capable of scanning up to 500 meters to either side of the vessel but we would be looking for better resolution and therefore scanning at around 100 meters of ocean floor. Once we passed over the wreck the image appeared on the computer screen. Their was no interpolating the image or wondering what we were seeing. The image of the wreck, the Black Warrior, was clear and we could easily recognize details like the wreck's boiler, mast and low lying debris field. For the rest of the day we cruised around the ocean scanning wrecks, in fact, we imaged nine wrecks in one day! Doug also continued to impress us with the machine's versatility. He demonstrated how we could get larger more detailed images by scanning the same site on a smaller scale or by only scanning off one side of the tow fish. He showed how the Sea Scan PC could measure objects on the bottom and how it could triangulate to calculate the relief of the target. To say the very least everyone on the boat was very excited. We had learned more about the actual layout and surrounding areas of these nine wrecks in one day then in the last ten years of diving. We even found several targets that we want to go back and investigate on SCUBA.

Sea Scan PC Interface Operability, on most sophisticated side scan units mandates a trained professional technician. The Sea Scan PC unit, however, is extremely user friendly. In fact, almost anyone who has ever operated a personal computer can learn the basics in just a few hours of practice. The superior performance and ease of use claimed by Doug was easy to prove. Even with yours truly behind the controls of the computer we continued to produce quality images. Experience is very important, but new operators will quickly grasp the principles and recognize the key features. Since data is stored on a hard disk in the computer, images can be reviewed later after returning from sea in the comfort of home or office.

Side scan sonar is the technology of the future that will enable us to not only produce more accurate underwater sketches of known wrecks, but to search and identify new sites to dive. For additional information on the Sea Scan PC Side Scan Sonar contact Marine Sonic Technology, Ltd., 5580 George Washington Memorial Highway, White Marsh VA 23183-0730 or call them at (800) 447-4804. I will also be running a hands on basic side scan course/expedition where we will be searching for an undiscovered shipwreck. For course details you can contact me at Aqua Explorers, Inc. at (516)868-2658.
Onoganda Shipwreck side scan sonar image courtesy Mark Monro   Tarjan shipwreck side scan courtesy Mark Monro
Texas Tower side scan sonar image courtesy Mark Munro   Volund shipwreck side scan sonar image courtesy Mark Munro .
For additional sonar image by Mark Munro check out



Marine Sonic Technology, Ltd
Manufacturer of Side Scan Sonar

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