First ever bathymetric map of Australian coastal waters goes live

By on 14 October, 2019

Seamap Australia contains a range of bathymetric data from scientific voyages in recent years, combined with many other sources. Image: RV Investigator, supplied by Marine National Facility.

Researchers have mapped the waters around the Australian continent for the first time to create the public data resource Seamap Australia.

The data-rich web map is the output of an effort to create the world’s first comprehensive map of marine habitats for Australia at the national scale.

Seamap Australia brings together a range of data from infrastructure such as cabling and pipelines, seafloor habitats, mineral resources and fisheries.

Dr. Vanessa Lucieer, co-founder and IMAS researcher at the University of Tasmania, said the launch represents a massive scale-up in capacity of Autralian marine data, and public access to such information.

“The Australian terrestrial landscape has been mapped in great detail, down to the location of every road, house and forest but until now, maps of the oceans around Australia were essentially a big, blue blank,” she said.

Dr. Lucieer said that the data now available represented a painstaking cleaning and collection process from a range of different organisations.

“In recent years governments around Australia have invested heavily in the collection of data about seabed habitats in our coastal and offshore waters. However, this information was held on different databases and varied greatly in details such as classification schemes and data formats,” she said.

The project is the subject of a new paper published in the journal Scientific Data. 

Seamap Australia currently contains 29 different data layers with national coverage that can be combined to support decision making.

“For example, information about oil or gas pipelines might be overlaid with maps of seafloor terrain, fishing activity and the presence of species such as fish, sea grasses or corals,” said Dr. Lucieer.

Learn more about Seamap Australia and explore the data on the map here.

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