Global Ocean Habitats


The project is an international collaboration that was instigated by the GeoHab community. It is coordinated by GRID-Arendal and Dr. Peter Harris, from Geoscience Australia,  and Dr. Elaine Baker from GRID-Arendal are the supervising editors.

The objective of the Global Ocean Habitats project is to contribute to the conservation of marine biodiversity by utilising geomorphological data to identify and characterise global marine benthic habitats. Linking these habitats to marine ecosystems provides a mechanism for mapping the ecological geography of the ocean floor. The goal of the project has been to produce an atlas of marine geomorphology that can be used to support the identification of a representative system of Marine Protected Areas - especially in the high seas area where there is currently a scarcity of data and information.


Brooke et. al., NOAA OE 2005/Marine Photobank   Konstantin Tkachenko/Marine Photobank

The Publication

The pioneering Seafloor Geomorphology as Benthic Habitat: GeoHAB Atlas of Seafloor Geomorphic Features and Benthic Habitats was released in December 2011. Two hundred and thirty contributors have constructed 57 case studies of different geomorphic environments, from coastal regions to the deep ocean basins. The case studies combine detailed seabed morphology with benthic biodiversity analysis to yield an integrated picture of the benthic communities that are associated with different types of benthic habitat. The habitat mapping approach, which supports ecosystem based management, is based on principles of biogeography and benthic ecology and seabed (geomorphic) classification schemes.

We also plan a more general publication in the style of the GRID-Arendal’s Global Outlook for Ice and Snow.