Seamap Australia: a National Marine Habitat Portal for the Australian Continental Shelf

Peter Walsh1, Emma Flukes2, Vanessa Lucieer3, Claire Butler4, Mark Hepburn5, Craig Johnson6

1Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia,

2Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia,

3Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia,

4Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia,

5Condense Pty Ltd, Hobart, Australia,

6Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia,


The Australian National Data Service (ANDS) High Values Collections (HVC) program funded the establishment of an Australian marine habitat classification scheme, spatial database and web portal, which we have named Seamap Australia [1].

Seamap Australia provides marine habitat data for the Australian continental shelf synthesised into a spatial dataset using a new classification scheme and made available via In a nation first, Seamap Australia combines data from around Australia under a single classification scheme enhanced with biodiversity, environmental pressures, physical and other data, to become a truly multidisciplinary resource.

More specifically, Seamap Australia represents a number of key collaborative outcomes:

  • the collation of all national benthic habitat mapping data into a single platform complete with metadata records, Web Mapping and Web Feature Services, harvested by the Australian Ocean Data Network (AODN), Research Data Australia (RDA) and other data discovery services;
  1. the synthesis of these datasets into one spatial data product using the newly developed classification scheme for the Australian continental shelf and made available through the ANDS Research Vocabularies Australia service;
  2. a web portal combining the Seamap Australia habitat data with multiple other third-party data (including seafloor imagery, biodiversity surveys, environmental pressures, commercial fishing effort, and physical data) to create an invaluable multidisciplinary resource for marine managers, researchers, industry and the general community; and
  3. a number of innovative web interface features to enhance usability and management of data provenance.

The University of Tasmania was well positioned to develop this spatial project. Previous IMAS projects including SeaMap Tasmania, Redmap Australia and Reef Life Survey have generated awareness of what is possible when spatial data are made publicly available. We anticipate that Seamap Australia will enable national scale cross-disciplinary studies of continental shelf habitats. We hope that by bringing all of the marine habitat mapping data sets into one portal, and through highlighting the custodians of these data, that institutions are encouraged to work collaboratively to address nationwide solutions.

The Seamap Australia team have recently won the Big Data Innovation and Public Sector and Government categories of the 2018 Tasmanian iAwards, and will progress to the National iAwards later this year.


  1. Butler, C., Lucieer, V., Walsh, P., Flukes., E and Johnson, C. (2017) Seamap Australia [Version 1.0] the development of a national benthic marine classification scheme for the Australian continental shelf. Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania. 52 pgs.


Peter Walsh began his career working in Fire Behaviour and Ecology research for the Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) in Western Australia.  Given an opportunity to diversify, he began writing eResearch applications for managing research data before progressing to the role of Operations Manager in CALM’s Data Centre.  In the late ’90’s, he started an enterprise developing software for monitoring data centre infrastructure, which went on to sell in six languages to over 30 countries worldwide.  In 2007, Peter joined the Bluenet Project at the University of Tasmania, eventually taking up his current position as Manager, Data and Information Systems at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies in 2011.

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