Before you begin exploring the OBIS-SEAMAP web site

The OBIS-SEAMAP web site provides a variety of tools to explore, map and download survey data for marine mammals, seabirds, sea turtles and sharks & rays collected from data providers across the globe.

You don't need an account to access the web site. However, use of the data available through the OBIS-SEAMAP web site is subject to the OBIS-SEAMAP Terms of Use and the sharing policy differs dataset by dataset. For those datasets with CC-BY-NC or CC-BY sharing policy, you can download the data from OBIS-SEAMAP web site immediately. There are datasets that require permission to download. Those data are not downloadable from the OBIS-SEAMAP web site unless users get permission from the data provider.

OBIS-SEAMAP Ver. 4 Highlights
This slideshow helps you quickly learn what are new or upgraded in the new version of OBIS-SEAMAP web site, released in November 2020.

How to get more help

Before continuing reading this help, first be familiar with how to get more help. Each of the query tools and features in the online mapping tool has detailed help which you can view by clicking .

Quick Search

If you know your species or datasets of interest, the Quick Search at the center on the Front Page gives you the quickest way to extract data that you are looking for. The Quick Search box accepts the following names or words and returns the matched species or dataset. It is equipped with live search functionality that dynamically searches the database as you type in (the live search is enabled at three letters or longer).

  • Species scientific or common name at any level of taxonomic hierarchy (e.g. mammalia, or humpback whale)
  • Species ITIS taxonomic serial number
  • Dataset name
  • Dataset ID if you know
  • Provider name (institution or individual)

The Quick Search returns the matched items with the headline of the category such as 'Species found', 'Datasets found', 'Datasets from Matched Providers', so you know what kind of data are found in the OBIS-SEAMAP database.

By clicking the dataset or species you are interested in, you are forwarded to the Dataset Page or Species Profile Page.

Quick Search on Front Page

There are also three icons left to the Quick Search box, each of which brings up an organized data search panel.

IconDescription

Species Search Panel organizes the available species through the texnomoic tree starting at the class (i.e. Aves, Chondrichthyes, Mammalia, Reptilia). You can go into branches and find taxa that belong to the branch.

Alternatively, you can enter species name, scientific or common, into the search box which will list the matched names. A selection of one of the matched names brings you to the item within the corresponding branch.

If you want to see the distribution of the species you are interested in quickly, select/highlight the item (instead of clicking the scientific name). Then, the background map is updated to show the gridded summary of the species observations. A mignifier icon will appear right to the selected item. Click the mignifier and you will see the map of the species. This is intended to be a snapshot of the species, which means the map is not interactive, so that you can quickly find the species distribution.

Once you have found the species you are interested in, click the scientific name and you will be forwarded to the Species Profile Page of your select species.

If you just want to download the data of the species quickly without exploring it with the mapping tool, you can start the download process by clicking the download icon .

Dataset Search Panel lists the datasets per contributor. If you are looking for datasets that observed your species of interest, enter the species name into the species search box.

If you want to see the overview of the dataset you are interested in, select/highlight the item (instead of clicking the dataset name). Then, the background map is updated to show the gridded summary of the dataset. A mignifier icon will appear right to the selected item. Click the mignifier and you will see the map of the dataset. This is intended to be a snapshot of the dataset, which means the map is not interactive, so that you can quickly find if this is the one you are looking for.

Once you have found the dataset you are interested in, click the dataset name and you will be forwarded to the Dataset Page of your select dataset.

If you just want to download the data of the dataset quickly without exploring it with the mapping tool, you can start the download process by clicking the download icon .

If you are interested in a particular contributor and want to see its contributions, Contributor Search Panel will help you find your contributor of interest. The Panel lists all contributors ordered by person's last name by default. If you rather want to explore by organization name, choose [Organization] for "List per".

If you want to see the overview of the datasets of the contributor you are interested in, select/highlight the item (instead of clicking the last name). Then, the background map is updated to show the gridded summary of the contributor's datasets. A mignifier icon will appear right to the selected item. Click the mignifier and you will see the map of the datasets. This is intended to be a snapshot of the datasets, which means the map is not interactive, so that you can quickly find the extent of the contribution.

Once you have found the contributor you are interested in, click the last name and you will be forwarded to the Adavnced Search where all the contributor's datasets are automatically loaded.

If you just want to see the contributor's contact information, click the "i" icon .

Overview of the Online Mapping Tools

There are three variations of the Online Mapping Tools that have different URLs with slightly different usage and functionality.

Advanced Search

The Mapping Tools (Advanced Search) builds the foundation of the data exploratory tools for the OBIS-SEAMAP data. The other two variations function as particular cases depending on your interest and are described below.

You can directly go to the Advanced Search with the URL or you can click [EXPLORE] on the Front Page of OBIS-SEAMAP. By default, the Advanced Search Interface loads the gridded summary of the entire holding of the OBIS-SEAMAP data.

Quick Search on Front Page

At the center of the Advanced Search or Mapping Tool is the Quick Search box, which works the same way as on the Front Page. The only difference is that when you choose a species or dataset, it is added as a criterion to the Mapping Tool and the data on the map is filtered by the selection.

Icon Tray

At the left side of the window is an icon tray that gathers all functionality of the Mapping Tool.

 FunctionDescription
Toolbar Show / hide the toolbar for the map navigation and operations including:
  • Zoom in: Zoom in to the specified rectangular area
  • Full extent: Zoom out to the full extent of the data
  • Identify: While this tool is on, click a grid cell or point on the map to get the information of the cell or point.
  • Region drawing: Draw a rectangle, polygon or circle on the map to filter the data within it.
  • Basemap choice: Choose preferred basemap.
  • Google Earth: Display the current data on Google Earth.
  • Full screen: Switch to the full screen mode.
Map Summary Show / hide the panel that shows summary statistics of the current map. The Map Summary Panel also provides Display Options that allows you to turn on/off layers.
See the popup help within the Mapping Tool for more details.
Layer Choices and Options Show / hide the panel that lists available layers including Species Range Map and jurisdictional or biogeographic zoning layers and oceanographic layers.
See the popup help within the Mapping Tool for more details.
Information / Metadata Open / close the Information Panel. The Information Panel has sub panels that show species profile, dataset metadata, record data, contributor information and legend.
Legends Open / close the Legends Panel, which is a sub panel of the Information Panel. The Legends Panel can be positioned at the right side of the Information Panel while you take a look at other information (e.g. Dataset Metadata) by clicking the icon left to the [Close] button.
Charts Open / close the Charts Panel that displays temporal changes of the observations currently on the map. Charts can overlay oceanographic variables such as sea surface temperature (SST) or chlorophyll-a.
See the popup help within the Mapping Tool for more details.
Download Start the download wizard that has three steps to request data download including:
  • Terms of Use: You have to read through the Terms of Use and agree on it to continue the wizard.
  • Download Purpose: Describe the intended use of the downloaded data along with contact information. The contact information is only saved internally for usage information
  • Download Options: Choose which data type and in which format you want to download data.
For more details, go to Download OBIS-SEAMAP data or see the popup help within the Mapping Tool.

URL parameters

To facilitate more flelxble, direct access to the data, the Advanced Search also accepts URL parameters that help you get the map of your interest quickly. The following table shows available parameters.

Type Key Value
Multiple?
Examples and notes
Species sp_tsn ITIS Taxonomic Serial Number (TSN)
YES

Multiple TSNs can be specified with comma as a separator.

e.g. Sightings of Humpback whale and Blue whale
https://seamap.env.duke.edu/explore?sp_tsn=180530,180528

  species / scientific / scientific_name Species scientific name
YES

Multiple scientific names can be specified with comma as a separator.

e.g. Sightings of Humpback whale and Blue whale
https://seamap.env.duke.edu/explore?scientific=Megaptera%20novaeangliae

This is the same as
https://seamap.env.duke.edu/species/180530

Dataset dataset_id Dataset ID
YES

Multiple Dataset IDs can be specified with comma as a separator.

e.g. Dataset "SEFSC Atlantic surveys 1992 (Dataet ID: 3)"
https://seamap.env.duke.edu/explore?dataset_id=3

This is the same as
https://seamap.env.duke.edu/dataset/3

e.g. Datasets "SEFSC Atlantic surveys 1992 (Dataet ID: 3)" and "SEFSC Caribbean Survey 2000 (Dataset ID: 7)"
https://seamap.env.duke.edu/explore?dataset_id=3,7

Temporal year A single year or a range of years
YES

Temporal parameters can be added along with dataset or species parameters. To specify a range of years, add the start year and the end year with comma as a separator.

e.g. Humpback whale sightings in Year 2000
https://seamap.env.duke.edu/explore?sp_tsn=180530&year=2000

e.g. Humpback whale sightings from 2000 through 2003
https://seamap.env.duke.edu/explore?sp_tsn=180530&year=2000,2003

  month / months Months (numeric)
YES

Multiple months can be specified with comma as a separator.

e.g. Humpback whale sightings in January and February
https://seamap.env.duke.edu/explore?sp_tsn=180530&months=1,2

  season / seasons winter / 1; spring / 2; summer / 3; fall / 4
YES

Seasons as string or number can be added as a parameter. Multiple seasons can be specified with comma as a separator.

e.g. Humpback whale sightings in summer or fall
https://seamap.env.duke.edu/explore?sp_tsn=180530&season=3,4
https://seamap.env.duke.edu/explore?sp_tsn=180530&season=summer,fall

Zone / Region zone Zone type [eez|lme|meow];Zone name;Zone ID
NO

Zone name and ID can be found in the "Select zones" window.

e.g. Humpback whale sightings within Australian EEZ
https://seamap.env.duke.edu/explore?sp_tsn=180530&zone=eez;Australia;8323

  region Zone ID
NO
Applicable to preloaded region layer.
Layer type initLayer points
NA

By default, the sightings are aggregated by unit cell. If you want to see individual sightings as points (i.e. the points layer), set this parameter. Note the drawing may be slow if there are a lot of sightings (e.g. > 10,000).

e.g. Pygmy Sperm Whale with the points layer shown
https://seamap.env.duke.edu/explore?sp_tsn=180491&initLayer=points

Color by colorBy sp_tsn / dataset / series
NA

For the points layer, specify how the points are color-coded.

e.g. Pygmy Sperm Whale with the points layer shown and classified by dataset
https://seamap.env.duke.edu/explore?sp_tsn=180491&initLayer=points&colorBy=dataset

Dataset Page

If you are interested in a particular dataset, the Dataset Page gives you the quickest access to the information and data of the dataset. The Dataset Page loads its data and presents its metadata automatically.
This is convenient if you are a data provider and want to have a direct link to your dataset.

The URL of the Dataset Page is:

https://seamap.env.duke.edu/dataset/dataset_id

where dataset_id is the Dataset ID, a numeric identifier of the dataset, which you will need to know in advance.

If you don't know the Dataset ID, the quickest access to the Dataset Page would be to look into "Browse Datasets" Panel on the Front Page. The datasets are grouped by data provider. You can also find datasets that include observations of a particular species. Once you found your dataset of interest, click the name of the dataset that brings you to the Dataset Page.

Browse Datasets on Front Page

Species Profile Page

If you are interested in a particular species, the Species Profile Page gives you the quickest access to the information and data of the species. The Species Profile Page loads its data and presents the species profile compiled by OBIS-SEAMAP automatically.

The URL of the Species Profile Page is:

https://seamap4-dev.env.duke.edu/species/itis_tsn

where itis_tsn is a taxonomic serial number organized by the Integrated Taxonomic Information System.

If you don't know the taxonomic serial number of the species, the quickest access to the Species Profile Page would be to look into "Browse Species" Panel on the Front Page. Browing the taxonomic tree, you can find your species of interest. Alternatively, you can enter the common or scientific name of the species into the search box. You can also find datasets that include observations of a particular species. Once you found your species of interest, click the species name that brings you to the Species Profile Page.

Browse Species on Front Page

Gridded distribution or points

Gridded distribution

By default, the map displays the gridded summary of the data extracted and aggregated at a resolution according to the current zoom level. This gives you a quick view of the spatial distribution of the data. The summary represents one of the following counts or indexes color-coded by that count at a specific resolution with the number of records being default.

  • Number of records
  • Number of animals (group size)
  • Number of species (species richness)
  • Shannon Index
  • Simpson Index
  • Hurlbert's Index

To change the count type, choose one of the six count types listed in the Display Options section in the Map Summary Panel. If the choices are not visible, turn "Summary" on.

The grid resolution automatically changes in response to the zoom level as follows. You can aslo fix the resolution by choosing the desired resolution icon. Then, "Fixed" option will be chosen. To go back to the automatic resolution change, choose "Auto" option.

Zoom level2 - 45 - 89 - 13
Resolution (degree)1.00.10.01

For your reference, this rectangular grid system is called "C-Squares" (Rees 2003).

Rees T 2003 "C-Squares", a new spatial indexing system and its applicability to the description of oceanographic datasets. Oceanography 16: 11–19

Points layer

The points layer renders individual observation records as points on the map. Since the number of points can be huge (e.g. 100,000 points), it may take a few minutes to map all. You can switch between the gridded summary and the points layer anytime by checking one of them in the Display Options section (you can even show them both). The points layer is not available when no criteria are set up (you can't see all the OBIS-SEAMAP data as points at once as it will take too long), though.

Points are rendered with symbols based on the data type. For example, visual sightings collected from a vessel or airplane survey is rendered with a filled circle. Telemetry locations from a tagged animal are given a triangle. Points are given the same colors per dataset, species or individual animals. You can choose one of them by checking [Species], [Dataset] or [Individual] from [Color by] section. If you chose [Individuals], the observation records that are not identified as an individual (this is usually the case for vessel or airplane visual sightings) are given red.

Charts

You can explore observation data with interactive charts.

For more details, see Charts or see the popup help within the Mapping Tool.

Download data

OBIS-SEAMAP provides flexible and powerful data download features. You can download data in the following formats:

  • CSV
  • ESRI file geodatabase or shapefile
  • Google Earth KML/KMZ
  • OGC WMS
  • OGC WFS

For more details, see Download OBIS-SEAMAP data or see the popup help within the Mapping Tool.

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