Contributing Data to OBIS-SEAMAP

Thank you for contributing data to OBIS-SEAMAP!

Below are summarized steps to submit, register and publish your data through OBIS-SEAMAP.

  1. Please send your data as an email attachment to or share via cloud strage with Data Manager. Virtually any format is acceptable (*see below). Effort data are greatly appreciated.
  2. OBIS-SEAMAP processes and registers it into the database and sends you a notification email and request you to go through review processes.
  3. You review and edit the metadata (e.g. abstract etc.) online. You will be issued an OBIS-SEAMAP account to log in to the site.
  4. Notify OBIS-SEAMAP when it's ready to go public.
  5. OBIS-SEAMAP publishes it.
  6. The public can view the dataset on the OBIS-SEAMAP web site and download it unless the dataset is flagged as "Permission required".
* Please see "What are the minimum data fields OBIS-SEAMAP requires?" and "What formats are acceptable for OBIS-SEAMAP?" in this page for more details.

How it Works:

Data registration processes

Automated data sharing through partners' collections

OBIS-SEAMAP has established automated data transfer mechanisms in collaboration with partners. The active partners include:

If the nature of your data fall in the partners' target, it is suggested you share or upload your data to the partner's services. For STAT, you need to flag "Share with OBIS-SEAMAP" option. Once your data are registered in the partners' databases, they are automatically transferred to the OBIS-SEAMAP database via scheduled automated tasks. shares both sighting data and images.

Data sharing policy

We adopt and slightly adjust the following Creative Commons licenses:

in addition to No Rights Reserved (CC0; public domain) option.

Since we understand that your data may contain sensitive parts and that you may not always feel comfortable sharing such sensitive parts without consultation/permission, we will append an optional restriction to CC BY and CC BY-NC and add another license option (i.e. contact and permission required). Consequently, we define customized license options as below.

Permission Attribution Commercial use Attributes
CC0 Not required
No but strongly suggested Yes All
CC BY Not required Yes Yes Minimum unless "With all attributes" is selected
CC BY-NC Not required Yes No Minimum unless "With all attributes" is selected
Permission required Required Yes - -

Minimum attributes include sighting location (latitude and longitude), date/time, species identified, the number of animals (herd / group size). These attributes are used to map the sightings on the online mapping tools.

By default, your dataset submitted and registered into the OBIS-SEAMAP database falls in the CC BY-NC license unless you explicitely choose another option. When users of the OBIS-SEAMAP web site find your data interesting, they can immediately download the minimum attributes of the dataset, unless it is protected with "With permission" policy, in a supported format such as CSV or ESRI shapefile / file geodatabase. If you choose "With all attributes" option, all attributes are included in the download data. Users are required to express attribution properly when they use your data in any publcation. For datasets under "Public domain" option, users are required to give credit to OBIS-SEAMAP only. For other datasets, users are required to give credit to both the data provider (you) and OBIS-SEAMAP.

Datasets transferred from Satellite Tracking and Analysis Tool (STAT) to OBIS-SEAMAP automattically fall in "Permission" option. The summarized data at 1-degree resolution per species are uploaded to OBIS.

If your dataset allows to share minimum attributes only and a user would like to get additional attributes (metadata describing all attributes is available online), the user is requested to contact you and you give the user an approval to release additional attributes. Then, we prepare a downloadable data for the user.

For datasets under "Permission required" policy, users can view the data online but are not able to download it immediately. Users are required to contact you and discuss the use of your data. Only after you agree with the use of your data and give the user permission (can be an email) to use the data, the data will be provided to the user. Since every case is unique, "With permission" does not define whether a commercial use is allowed or which atributes are availble to obtain. These aspects should be disucessed between the user and you.

Datasets registered in the OBIS-SEAMAP database are transferred to iOBIS and GBIF (future plan) according to the policy you choose for your dataset unless you choose not to transfer. The first three options "Public domain", "CC BY" and "CC BY-NC" remain in these data services. Attributes options are also applied to pick attributes that are transferred. For example, if you choose "Minimum attributes", only the location, date/time, species information and the number of animals will be transferred to the data services. Those datasets under "Permission required" are not transferred to these data services.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the minimum data fields OBIS-SEAMAP requires?

OBIS-SEAMAP requires that all data be searchable by taxon name and by geographic coordinates.

The minimum data requirements for a record are the “what”, “where” and “when” of an observation:

  • What=SPECIES IDENTIFICATION:  A scientific name (Genus species) is preferred, however data at higher taxonomic levels, such as genus, family or order is also allowable. If you record species codes, please provide a key.
  • Where=LOCATION:  The latitude/longitude coordinates of the observation. The coordinates can be in decimal degrees or degrees/minutes/seconds. Positive values for negative latitudes and longitudes are acceptable as long as they are labeled with the correct  N/S, E/W designation. Other formats are also acceptable as OBIS-SEAMAP converts them during data processing.
    Because the accuracy of the geographical position of different records may differ, information on the spatial resolution will be included in the metadata.
  • When=DATE/TIME:  The date and time of the observation should be provided. Almost any format is acceptable.

How about other fields?

OBIS-SEAMAP welcomes whole datasets including additional attributes like in-situ data (i.e. sea surface temperature, salinity, and Beaufort sea state). Fields other than the minimum described above are not publicly available by default. We can keep extra information as an archive for your dataset.

OBIS-SEAMAP users may ask you for additional field data not publicly available but held by OBIS-SEAMAP. Upon your permission, OBIS-SEAMAP can release the requested data to such users.

Does OBIS-SEAMAP want effort data?

We are very interested in publishing your effort data. Effort data are transformed into tracklines and shown on the map as line segments along with your observations.  The inclusion of effort data is a unique feature of OBIS-SEAMAP.

What formats are acceptable for OBIS-SEAMAP?

Virtually any data format is acceptable unless the data are written in device-dependent binary format that needs to be deciphered. Common acceptable formats include, but are not limited to:

  • Excel shreadsheet (.xls; .xlsx)
  • Comma/tab separated values (.csv)
  • Text file (.txt)
  • Access database (.mdb; .accdb)
  • DataBase File (.dbf)
  • ESRI shapefile (.shp)
  • ESRI file geodatabase (.gdb)

If your data were collected through a mobile app such as SeaScribe (Google Play version / iTunes version), a convenient way to share the data with OBIS-SEAMAP is to export the data within the app into a CSV or JSON file and send it to OBIS-SEAMAP. See the User's manual for details (SeaScribe User's Guide).

It is very much appreciated if the following data formats are converted to one of those listed above.

  • FileMaker Pro
  • FoxPro

How do I provide data to OBIS-SEAMAP?

The easiest way to send data is as an e-mail attachment to Data Manager. If the data are too large to send via e-mail, you can share your data through cloud services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive.

If your data are already in, or are about to be shared with, our partners' databases, no worries. The data in partners' databases are automatically transfered to OBIS-SEAMAP at a regular interval. See "Automated data sharing through partners' collections" above for additional notes.

Once the data are registered into the OBIS-SEAMAP database, you will have opportunity to review it and edit the metadata before it goes public.

I have a large collection of data that are regularly updated. How can I efficiently transfer my collection to OBIS-SEAMAP?

OBIS-SEAMMAP has capability of transfer contributor's data through scheduled automated processes. Greate cases of this automated data registration include sea turtles' telemetry data from Satellite Tracking and Analysis Tool (STAT) by and citizen science photo-identification data from

We can establish a collaboration with you to set up a similar automated data registration.

Do I need an account on OBIS-SEAMAP to provide data?

We will automatically create an account for you to review your data before it is published. You don't need it in advance when you submit your data via e-mail.

 How am I credited? Can the funding sources also be credited?

You are credited as a contributor. Funding sources and collaborators can be listed in the "Dataset credit" section within the dataset metadata.

How are my data cited? Am I notified when my data are used for publications?

Your data are cited as well as OBIS-SEAMAP according to the OBIS-SEAMAP Terms of Use. During the review process, which takes place before your data goes public, you provide the citation information for the dataset. OBIS-SEAMAP users are required to cite your data and OBIS-SEAMAP in their publications or products.
OBIS-SEAMAP records the download history, which can be viewed online. However, due to the nature of the online access (e.g. a user downloaded the dataset twice or failed to download due to a network error.), the history may not be accurate.

Who holds the ownership of the data?

As a contributor, you retain the ownership of the data.

How are my data displayed on OBIS-SEAMAP?

Your data are accessible on the Dataset Page. The Dataset Page shows the associated metadata, which you may edit during the review process. The data can also be viewed with the Advanced Search. When OBIS-SEAMAP users search by species or locations, your data will be listed as a contributing dataset and mapped with other data (while still separately identifiable).
Your data can also be viewed in Google Earth after being converted to a KML file.
All of the data on OBIS-SEAMAP, except those opted out from sharing, are uploaded into and searched with OBIS, which is a parent node of OBIS-SEAMAP, and GBIF.

I'm confused about the relationship between OBIS and OBIS-SEAMAP? Do I need to submit my data to OBIS as well?

OBIS is a parent node of OBIS-SEAMAP. By default, all the OBIS-SEAMAP data, except those opted out from sharing, are uploaded into OBIS. Only the minimum required fields are uploaded into OBIS. Additional attributes and effort data you submitted to OBIS-SEAMAP are not uploaded into OBIS. Note that OBIS also has its own data schema, so your data may appear different from the original format on the OBIS web site.
Also note that OBIS and OBIS-SEAMAP data are uploaded into GBIF. These three nodes are interconnected.

How are my data downloaded from OBIS-SEAMAP?

Users can download your data after agreeing to the OBIS-SEAMAP Terms of Use unless you chose "Permission required" option. Agreement to the Terms of Use asks users to give the contributor (you) an appropriate attribution. Which attributes are downloadable depends on the sharing policy. The data can be downloaded in CSV, ESRI shapefile or file geodatabase, KML (Google Earth), OGC WFS / WMS formats in which the sharing policy is observed.

I'm still conducting analyses or preparing publications using the data I submitted (or am willing to submit) to OBIS-SEAMAP. Can you hold it until I'm finished? Do I have control over the data after it goes public?

The data will only be published upon your consent. Even if the data are registered into OBIS-SEAMAP and ready to go public, it won't be published until you give OBIS-SEAMAP a "go." There have been several cases in which providers agree to publish the minimum required fields but not to publish effort data until the analysis is done. These cases are easily accommodated.

I want to know who viewed and downloaded my data. Do I receive notification?

Currently you are not notified when OBIS-SEAMAP users view or download your data. However, OBIS-SEAMAP records the download history. A very rough history of downloads is viewable by cliking a link "See download history / statistics" in the Dataset Page (at the bottom of the summary section in dark blue). Since this history is not accurate, please do not use the history data for any purposes other than your personal reference.

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