top of page

Side Scan Sonar


A lot of people ask us what is the one piece of technical piece of equipment we would buy if we had the money? The answer is easy. A side scan sonar. This one piece of equipment can change everything. Back in the day we used to dive for days searching for bodies and vehicles and now sometimes we can find them in minutes or hours without putting a diver in the water until its time to make the recovery.


Developed during World War II for mine hunting and popularized for civilian use in the 1960's by Dr. Harold Edgerton, side scan uses ultrasonic sound waves to locate objects and record bottom structure in a swath on one or both sides of its transducers. For shallow water searching, the transducer can stay mounted to the boat. To refine the process, the transducer is removed from the hull and mounted on a tow fish which can be trolled at depth. This provides several advantages: the sonar can more effectively "see" things standing off the bottom; the transducer is isolated somewhat from boat movement (roll in particular); and the transducer can be "flown" below a thermocline which might tend to reflect or attenuate the sonar signals.

Side scan Sonar is currently being used to successfully locate:

  • Vehicles

  • Boats

  • Bodies

It is also used successfully in:

  • Homeland Security

  • Ship Hull Inspections

  • Bridge Inspections

  • Force Protection- Harbor and Ship security, Mine Detection

  • Environmental Issues - Location of trash sites, hazardous waste.

  • Locating Old Growth Timber

  • Insurance Fraud

  • Surveying - Pipe lines, wharfs, piers

  • Artificial Reef - Construction and Monitoring

  • Marine Research - Monitoring of fish populations, oyster reefs, bottom structure, biologics in the water.


A side scan sonar is used to draw a picture of the bottom and is a great tool when you have a large area to search and you're looking for a large item like a body, car, motorcycle or plane.  This side scan may not be that useful if the bottom is covered with obstructions like trees that will prevent the side scan from "seeing" the bottom. 

The side scan sonar recommended for our line of work is the 4125-SAR by EdgeTech. I also highly recommend contacting John DeMille with EdgeTech. John is a personal friend and one of the world's leading experts with side scan sonar. John will answer all your questions and point you in the right direction. His contact number is Telephone 1-508-291-0057 email address is:

bottom of page