NOAA Ocean Service Education banner

Fun Facts Image Header

There are more than just shipwrecks on the sea floor. Surveyors find:

  • cranes
  • lobster pots
  • oyster beds
  • underwater sand dunes
  • more!

Not all shipwrecks on the sea floor are from accidents. Sometimes, an old ship is sunk to create a new coral reef, where fish and other sea life can live. There are even old trains, tanks, and cars underwater!

safety seagull

sidescan and multibeam comparison of the ship Maxwell rollover

What Do Sonar Echoes Look Like?

Scientists use computer-mapping software
to turn sonar echoes or soundings into rainbow-colored maps and 3-D models.

On the right is a multibeam rainbow image of a sonar. Place your mouse over the picture to compare the differences between a multibeam and a side scan sonar image. What do you see?

Did you know?

Scientists pick up an AUV equipped with side scan sonar
These scientists are on the survey vessel Bay Hydrographer in the Chesapeake Bay. They are picking up an AUV equipped with side scan sonar.

Scientists use sonar machines that don't need to be connected to a ship or boat. They are called AUVs for Autonomous Underwater Vehicles. Scientists can tell these machines where to go underwater. The AUV will go to the sea floor, get information, and bring it back to the scientists!

For more information on AUVs and how NOAA uses them for research, click here:

footer art