NOAA, Partners Complete Epic Southeast Alaska Coastal Mapping Project

Fishermen’s News Alaska Bureau

People around the world can now get an eagle’s-eye view, without leaving home, of the entire Southeast Alaska coastline from Dixon Entrance to Yakutat, thanks to completion of a project known as the ShoreZone Partnership.

The project involved mapping some 19,000 miles of coastal habitat; a milestone equivalent to surveying the entire Pacific coastline of Washington, Oregon and California, twice, officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Jan. 11.

NOAA and other members of the ShoreZone Partnership were to do a presentation on the recently completed seven-year project January 19 at the 2012 Alaska Marine Science Symposium in Anchorage.

The habitat mapping effort followed ShoreZone protocols that have been applied throughout British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and the remainder of the Gulf of Alaska. The 30,000 km of Southeast Alaska data has been added to the larger statewide ShoreZone dataset.

The project also marks the first time Southeast Alaska’s entire coast has been mapped at the lowest tides of each year.

“One of the amazing aspects of this project is that the entire shoreline is imaged at low tide, which took a lot of planning,” said John Harper, project manager for Coastal & Ocean Resources, a partner and the primary contractor for the project. “Only some of the images on Google Earth have been collected at low tide. So this is the first time we are able to see the entire intertidal zone.”

The Alexander Archipelago, or Alaska’s panhandle, is known for its myriad of well over 1,000 islands and represents almost 40 percent of Alaska’s coastline. Imagery was collected during 20 separate summer surveys since 2004. The Alaska data and imagery – including more than one million video captures and 178,000 high-resolution photographs – are all available online at NOAA Fisheries’ Alaska Regional Office website:

One of the most exciting aspects of the project is the wide range of ways the images and information can be used, said Jon Kurland, assistant regional administrator for Habitat Conservation for NOAA Fisheries Alaska Regional Office.

“The Alaska ShoreZone data is available on our website in a format that’s easy for the public to use” said Kurland. “It’s a great resource for regulatory agencies, land owners, developers, oil spill responders, and others to help identify important coastal habitat features and even sensitive habitats such as salt marsh or eelgrass.”

The main ShoreZone website where imagery and data can be viewed online is at