The University of Connecticut, in cooperation with the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP,) has enhanced a dynamic website that allows users to explore Long Island Sound with state-of-the-art oceanic technology and a host of new video programs.
The images and videos can be viewed at www.lisrc.uconn.edu/explorelis. The site also describes the various habitats in the Sound, discusses its history and geology, and provides information on how its environment is affected by human activity.
The site was originally developed in 2007 with a $24,000 grant from the Long Island Sound License Plate Fund of the DEP and a collaboration between the University’s National Undersea Research Center (NURC) and the Long Island Sound Resource Center, a UConn-DEP joint organization.
New website features expand upon offerings like the virtual Underwater Tour of Long Island Sound, which now includes high-definition footage of dives and videos of different underwater habitats.
The improved site also incorporates underwater maps of the Sound that have been generated by a partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Geologic Survey (USGS) and the DEP with the underwater imagery gathered by NURC. These maps were developed using multibeam sonar and produce satellite-like images of seafloor topography.
“Combining these wonderful new map products that present an accurate geologic landscape with the video of the seafloor and creatures that live there hopefully gives the visitor a real sense of what the Sound is like underwater” says Ralph Lewis, UConn Marine Science professor and former State of Connecticut geologist.
“The impetus for enhancing the site came from discussions with teachers,” says Ivar Babb, director of NURC. “Teachers loved the colorful images depicting the underwater habitats of the Sound, but suggested that video would capture the attention of their You-Tube generation students even more. The new video clips allow students to study habitats, topography and the geology of Long Island Sound.”
Acting DEP Commissioner Amey Marrella said, "The new videos, maps, and special features of this web site are sure to spark the interest of all who encounter them. We embrace this emerging technology as one more way we can spread the message about the wonders of Long Island Sound to encourage Connecticut residents to enjoy and appreciate it and to preserve it for the future.”
The Long Island Sound Fund derives its revenue through the sale of Preserve the Sound license plates, through proceeds from the Preserve the Sound Affinity credit card, and by private donations. To date, Connecticut residents have purchased over 135,000 Preserve the Sound license plates, raising over $4.7 million for projects to help preserve and protect Long Island Sound and to create educational and public access opportunities that foster greater public appreciation for our local marine environment. Information and order forms for purchasing Preserve the Sound license plates are available by calling 1-800 CT SOUND, or by writing to Long Island Sound Plate, 60 State Street, Wethersfield, CT 06161-6001 or online at www.ct.gov/dep/lis. Look for the Long Island Sound License Plate Program under "Featured Links".