Methods whereby an Asdic may be used empirically to examine the sea bed are discussed. They indicate that on flat sea bottoms the effects of impedance and attenuation combine to produce a record usually distinctive enough to broadly classify the sediment over which the vessel is passing. These methods were used to interpret an area of unconsolidated sand, gravel and mud in the region of Arklow off the east Irish Coast. Echo-sounder traverses and sea bed sampling were also employed to assist with the interpretations. The sea bed is composed of dissected residual gravels covered in places with mobile sand displaying a great variety of high-energy bed forms. Mechanisms of sub-littoral sediment circulation, based largely on the bed forms recognized in the Asdic records, are also discussed.