Takata’s habitat cartography project aims to create geospatial analysis tools for the study and conservation of the rich habitats present in Mahahual: reef, seagrass prairies and mangrove forests. The project’s data collection methods include remote sensing based on satellite and side-scan sonar imagery, cartography diving expeditions and participatory cartography workshops. The data is processed and analyzed using geographical information systems (GIS) tools, which allow us to centralize a great diversity of factors.
The resulting maps are used by our reef monitoring, turtle conservation and coral restoration programs and are available to support local conservation initiatives. The maps subdivide Mahahual’s territory into habitats and study sites, simplifying the analysis of the reef’s state and dynamics as well as anthropogenic preasures.
The project has developed a series of maps of Mahahual’s submarine habitats encompassing 12km of coast. Satellite images first allowed us to map the reef down to 10m of depth. Regular cartography dives aim at mapping areas under 10m and test the accuracy of our satellite-based maps. During these cartography dives, volunteers follow the edge of the reef while carrying a GPS unit on a floating device. Cartography diving activities are scheduled to continue over the next couple of years. Simultaneously, participatory cartography campaigns have allowed us to identify and locate locally recognized dive sites and fishing areas.