Cornwall Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA) has invested in state-of-the-art sonar technology for its survey works throughout its district.

The HYPACK Max technology, supplied Swathe Services, can be operated remotely and has been essential for performing surveys under the COVID-19 restrictions.

Colin Trundle,  Principal Scientific Officer at Cornwall IFCA says: “The HYPACK software has been on my wish list for a while, and after receiving funding we updated our equipment in 2018.  Since then, we have used it for logging all our seabed surveys including sub-sea camera surveys and side scan sonar surveys which are used to describe seabed texture and feature locations. It has also been operated offsite and remotely, so it’s been a great resource to use with COVID-19 restrictions.’’

Mapping the distribution of Maerl

“One of the projects it has been used for is mapping the distribution of Maerl.  A type of calcified seaweed which is important for biodiversity and is a sub feature of the Fal and Helford Special Area of Conservation.  HYPACK was used to acquire, process and produce a mosaic of side scan sonar data which has helped us refine our understanding of the distribution of Maerl within this special conservation area.”

The new technology has been used on a number of different survey jobs, and it’s helped the team refine their survey methodologies as well as incorporate the functionality of HYPACK in their work.

Colin adds: “It has some really useful features, one of which allows us to track our boat in real time over seabed features and habitat types.  We are also now using it for guaranteed equidistant imagery during our subsea camera surveys. ‘’

“The addition of HYPACK has made a real step change in the way we can do things. It’s refined our process and significantly improved our efficiency. Working with Swathe Services has been great. They offer excellent products, services and continued support.”