The importance of seafloor habitat maps.

70% of the Earth’s surface is seafloor.

Seafloor habitats, often referred to as benthic habitats, occur in the benthic zone which is the bottom of a body of water such as the ocean, rivers, or lakes.

At Seamap Australia we bring together and synthesise the largest collection of benthic habitat data data in and around Australia.

98% of marine species
live on or in the seafloor.

With 50% to 80% of life on Earth estimated to live under the ocean’s surface, and 98% of marine species living on or in the ocean floor, seafloor habitats represent a substantial part of the world’s biodiversity.

The plants and animals that live on or in the seafloor are known as benthos.

80%+ of the ocean is unmapped, unobserved, and unexplored.

Nearshore areas are most frequently mapped – due both to challenges with accessing deeper water, and because coastal habitats are very vulnerable to human stressors and are important to conserve. Scientists estimate that 91% of marine species have yet to be classified.

Policymakers, managers and researchers use benthic habitat maps to make informed data-driven decisions that help protect Australia’s fragile shallow-water coastal areas.

What makes up a seafloor habitat.

The location

Determines how the area is effected by climate, geology, and large-scale evolutionary processes.

Its immediate surroundings

Determines the effect of micro-climate, the impact of landforms above or below the water, the influence of shoreline proximity, or the characteristics of the water itself.

What lives there

The plant or animal inhabitants – known as biota – are a critical component of the seafloor habitat.

The foundation that supports it

The size, shape, and other characteristics of the material that makes up the seafloor – often called the substratum – are the footing that supports the living ecosystems.

Where that foundation came from

The origin of the material that makes up the seafloor substratum may be derived from dead plants or animals, from geological processes, or even from human activity.