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Short Citation:
Northeast Fisheries Science Center, 2023: Benthic Habitat Database,

Item Identification

Title: Benthic Habitat Database
Short Name: Benthic Habitat Database
Status: Completed

The NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center has, through the years, accumulated an extensive data base of qualitative and quantitative (wet weight and number per square meter) data on the composition, distribution and abundance (including a variety of environmental measurements) of the macrobenthic invertebrate fauna of the U.S.east coast continental shelf, slope and upper rise ranging from the mouth of the Bay of Fundy to Key West, Florida.

Benthic fauna data has been collected from 1881 to the present by the National Marine Fisheries Service Laboratories at Woods Hole, MA (early years Bureau of Fisheries) and Sandy Hook, NJ (formerly with the Bureau of Sport Fisheries). Little data exists from 1881 to around 1955. After intensive sampling, data became sparse again after 1986. The data includes the work by Wigley and Theroux on the macrofauna of the Northeastern United States. Other major studies include Ocean Pulse, the Northeast Monitoring Program, New York Bight, 12 Mile Dumpsite, Long Island Sound and Raritan Bay surveys. Parameters included in these surveys include depth, sediment type, gear type, number, weight, family, class, genus, species name, and abundance. A total of 21,000 sample sites are included in this data set with 4,000 meters being the maximum depth sampled. Bottom temperature from MBTs and XBTs were measured from the 1960s to the present.


The benthic data base and the invertebrate collection continue to be used by ecologists, systematists, and taxonomists in preparing environmental impact statements, characterizing the benthic fauna of selected sites for a host of specific purposes (e.g. mining, dumping, drilling, marine sanctuaries, etc.).


Theme Keywords

Thesaurus Keyword
None benthic grab
None benthic habitat
None benthic mapping
None benthic taxonomy
None benthos
None biology
None bottom temperature
None macrobenthic invertebrate fauna
None marine
None sediment type

Temporal Keywords

Thesaurus Keyword
None 1953 - 1975
None 1966 - 1992

Spatial Keywords

Thesaurus Keyword
None Bay of Fundy
None Georges Bank
None Gulf of Maine
None Nantucket Shoals
None U.S.east coast continental shelf

Stratum Keywords

Thesaurus Keyword
None benthic

Physical Location

Organization: Northeast Fisheries Science Center
City: Woods Hole
State/Province: MA
Country: USA

Data Set Information

Data Set Scope Code: Data Set
Data Set Type: Oracle Database
Maintenance Frequency: None Planned
Data Presentation Form: Table (digital)

Support Roles

Data Steward

CC ID: 206996
Date Effective From: 2001
Date Effective To:
Contact (Person): Jones, Patricia L
Address: 166 Water Street
Woods Hole, MA 02543-1026
Email Address:
Phone: 508-495-2116
Fax: 508-295-2258


CC ID: 226924
Date Effective From: 2001
Date Effective To:
Contact (Organization): Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC)
Address: 166 Water Street
Woods Hole, MA 02543-1026
Phone: (508)495-2000
Business Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday - Friday

Metadata Contact

CC ID: 206997
Date Effective From: 2015
Date Effective To:
Contact (Person): Jones, Patricia L
Address: 166 Water Street
Woods Hole, MA 02543-1026
Email Address:
Phone: 508-495-2116
Fax: 508-295-2258


CC ID: 206998
Date Effective From: 2001
Date Effective To:
Contact (Person): Jones, Patricia L
Address: 166 Water Street
Woods Hole, MA 02543-1026
Email Address:
Phone: 508-495-2116
Fax: 508-295-2258

Point of Contact

CC ID: 206995
Date Effective From: 2019
Date Effective To:
Contact (Person): Jones, Patricia L
Address: 166 Water Street
Woods Hole, MA 02543-1026
Email Address:
Phone: 508-495-2116
Fax: 508-295-2258


Extent Group 1

Extent Group 1 / Geographic Area 1

CC ID: 207000
W° Bound: -82
E° Bound: -49.167
N° Bound: 49.167
S° Bound: 24.16666666667

US east coast continental shelf, slope and upper rise ranging from the mouth of the Bay of Fundy to Key West, Florida

Extent Group 1 / Time Frame 1

CC ID: 207001
Time Frame Type: Range
Start: 1880
End: 1975

The time frame for the Woods Hole data extends from 1881 to 1975; however, the majority of records are from 1953 to 1975

Extent Group 1 / Time Frame 2

CC ID: 207002
Time Frame Type: Range
Start: 1966
End: 1992

The time frame for the Sandy Hook data extends from 1966 to 1992

Access Information

Security Class: Unclassified
Data Access Procedure:

NEFSC Data Access Procedure:

1. Formal request in writing usually to the data owner/contact or Center Director;

2. Requester is contacted by data owner to review and verify the request content and details for data delivery options.

3. If data is confidential then owner will determine if the data may be released to the requester;

4. If data can be released, the data is downloaded and packaged for delivery electronically; or the requester may be directed to where the data is available online.

Data Access Constraints:


Data Use Constraints:

Prior to use of these records in any analysis or report, the provenance of the original data must be acknowledged. Acknowledge the use of specific records from contributing NOAA databases and acknowledge the use of the OBIS-USA facility. Recognize the limitations of data in OBIS-USA.

Distribution Information

Distribution 1

CC ID: 226994
Download URL:
File Name:

Compressed Zipped Folder: 25749_BenthicData



CC ID: 388079

NEFSC Benthic Database (OBIS-USA) Resource ID 1694

Technical Environment


Oracle 10g nova database

Data Quality

Completeness Report:

not applicable

Quality Control Procedures Employed:

Woods Hole Data was audited as part of a NODC Data Rescue project migrating the dataset to an Oracle database. Sandy Hook Data was merged into Oracle database as part of NODC Data Rescue.

Data Management

Have Resources for Management of these Data Been Identified?: Yes
Approximate Percentage of Budget for these Data Devoted to Data Management: Unknown
Do these Data Comply with the Data Access Directive?: Yes
Is Access to the Data Limited Based on an Approved Waiver?: No
If Distributor (Data Hosting Service) is Needed, Please Indicate: no
Approximate Delay Between Data Collection and Dissemination: none
If Delay is Longer than Latency of Automated Processing, Indicate Under What Authority Data Access is Delayed:

not applicable

Actual or Planned Long-Term Data Archive Location: Other
If World Data Center or Other, Specify: Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS)
Approximate Delay Between Data Collection and Archiving: none
How Will the Data Be Protected from Accidental or Malicious Modification or Deletion Prior to Receipt by the Archive?:

Scheduled backups and remote storage backups at NEFSC, archival of data set at OBIS


Lineage Statement:

Interest in and studies relating to the benthic invertebrate fauna of the marine environment off the coasts of the United States formally began in a systematically organized manner with the establishment, by Spencer F. Baird, of the U.S. Fish Commission in 1871. Woods Hole, MA was chosen as the site of the first permanent laboratory in the U.S. solely devoted to the scientific study of all aspects of the marine environment. Collections and data gathered on the benthic fauna from those early days, for the most part, were distributed to many other institutions and museums through the intervening years. However, some material (specimens and data) were preserved at the Woods Hole laboratory and have been incorporated into the data base and Specimen Reference Collection. The vast majority of the Woods Hole data and specimens, however, are the result of activities conducted at the Woods Hole Laboratory, beginning in the mid 1950's, as part of studies relating to the feeding habits of commercially important demersal fishes. The perceived lack of ecologically oriented data on the composition, distribution, abundance, and ecological and environmental relationships of the benthic fauna making up the diet of these fishes led to the establishment of studies designed to provide the necessary information on those topics. When the USGS Continental Margin Program was initiated in the early 1960's in cooperation with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the Woods Hole Fisheries Lab's Benthic Dynamics Investigation, then conducting similar studies, was invited to join the effort to provide biological expertise.

The Woods Hole samples were obtained by a wide variety of means including hand collecting in the intertidal zone to the use of research vessels (17 different ones) on 208 separate cruises using 49 different types of sampling gear (ranging from dipnets to trawls, dredges, grab type devices etc.) at sea out to 4,000 meters depth.

Child Items

Rubric scores updated every 15m

Rubric Score Type Title
Entity Table: BENCAT
Entity Table: BENCATALOG
Entity Table: BENCONV
Entity Table: BENCRUISE
Entity Table: BENGEAR
Entity Table: BENPURPOSE
Entity Table: BENSED
Entity Table: BENSTA
Entity Table: BENSTRATUM
Entity Table: BENTXN
Entity Table: BENVESS
Entity View: BENV01
Entity View: BENV02
Entity View: BENV03

Catalog Details

Catalog Item ID: 25749
GUID: gov.noaa.nmfs.inport:25749
Metadata Record Created By: Patricia L Jones
Metadata Record Created: 2015-07-01 12:01+0000
Metadata Record Last Modified By: Michaael Armbruster
Metadata Record Last Modified: 2023-04-10 15:00+0000
Metadata Record Published: 2017-03-14
Owner Org: NEFSC
Metadata Publication Status: Published Externally
Do Not Publish?: N
Metadata Last Review Date: 2017-03-14
Metadata Review Frequency: 1 Year
Metadata Next Review Date: 2018-03-14