Spatial distribution of macroalgae along the shores of Kongsfjorden (West Spitsbergen) using acoustic imaging

Aleksandra Kruss, Jaroslaw Tegowski, Agnieszka Tatarek, Jozef Wiktor, Philippe Blondel

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The identification of macroalgal beds is a crucial component for the description of fjord ecosystems. Direct, biological sampling is still the most popular investigation technique but acoustic methods are becoming increasingly recognized as a very efficient tool for the assessment of benthic communities. In 2007 we carried out the first acoustic survey of the littoral areas in Kongsfjorden. A 2.68 km2 area comprised within a 12.40 km2 euphotic zone was mapped along the fjord’s coast using single- and multi-beam echosounders. The singlebeam echosounder (SBES) proved to be a very efficient and reliable tool for macroalgae detection in Arctic conditions. The multibeam echosounder (MBES) was very useful in extending the SBES survey range, even though it’s ability in discriminating benthic communities was limited. The final result of our investigation is a map of the macroalgae distribution around the fjord, showing 39% macroalgae coverage (1.09 km2) of investigated area between isobaths -0.70 m and -30 m. Zonation analysis showed that most of the studied macroalgae areas occur up to 15 m depth (93%). These results were confirmed by biological sampling and observation in key areas. The potential of acoustic imaging of macrophytes, and a proposed methodology for the processing of acoustic data, are presented in this paper along with preliminary studies on the acoustic reflectivity of macroalgae, also highlighting differences among species. These results can be applied to future monitoring of the evolution of kelp beds in different areas of the Arctic, and in the rest of the world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-229
JournalPolish Polar Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2017


  • Arctic
  • Kongsfjorden
  • macroalgae
  • algae
  • acoustic imaging
  • habitat mapping
  • sonar

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics
  • Aquatic Science
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • Global and Planetary Change


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