World Resource of Boundaries and Named Zones for
Marine GIS: VLIZ MarineRegions
In this exercise you'll learn about the global data resource that is
being developed by the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ). Grown out
of an earlier global collection of EEZ vector files and a smaller
collection of boundaries (e.g. marine ecoregions), the combined resource
is now completely global and to all intents universal. If they
were still around, this would be the World Data Center for Marine GIS
Basemap Data. The available data are presented in the order they
appear, and methods for downloading, identifying and displaying the
various choices are presented.
Important Note About Political
All national boundaries, on land or at sea, are subject to change,
through international agreements and determinations. You should
always use the latest version of these files.
Do not include these boundaries
in any maps that might cause political problems, disagreements or
embarrassment in your
Preliminary Reading (in
OceanTeacher, unless otherwise indicated)
|1. Open the Marine Regions
website and spend some time reading about this project
|2. Along the top
margin you'll see these 5 tabs to access the data. None of these
"views" of the data are unique, and there is considerable overlap between
them; these portals just provide easier, thematic access.
Whatever you want in the way of global basemap data, they are
here. Just take the time to find them.
MARINE GAZETTEER. From the tabs along the
top, you can use this tab to access a huge collection of shape files via:
- GEOGRAPHIC NAME -If known
- PLACE TYPE (e.g. seamount)
- SOURCE - Collection of names/locations where originally found
- LATITUDE - Center latitude point of the area of interest (AOI)
- RADIUS - Height of the AOI (deg)
- LONGITUDE - Center longitude point of the AOI
- RADIUS - Width of the AOI (deg)
|4. Click on the letter L, for
example, to see a long list of feature names beginning with L.
|5. After some digging down
into the list, you can find LIBERIA (NATION).
|6. Click on LIBERIA (NATION)
to see these metadata items about the available map.
|7. Just below the above data,
you'll see this map of Liberia. And there's a data download link.
|8. There are many
data formats for this map, but it gives us a good chance to see the GML3
format (Geographic Markup Language, Ver. 3; GML). So click on the
DOWNLOAD link to see the actual file. Everything is too small to read
here, but we wanted you to see that GML is an ASCII XML-type file. The
data points are a huge block of lines after all the header information.
|9. Use FILE >
SAVE AS and navigate to the folder PROJECTS > LIBERIA > DATA > BASEMAP >
BORDERS > MARINEREGIONS and save it with the filename
liberia_marineregions.gml or liberia_marineregions.gml.xml.
The XML extension is optional.
|10. Run Saga.
Here you see it with the author's new preferred setup, with the settings
panel on the left./
|11. Select TOOLS >
IMPORT/EXPORT-GDAL/OGR > IMPORT VECTOR DATA
- FILES - Select the Liberia file you just saved
- GEOMETRY TYPE - Automatic
Then click OK.
|12. This polygon shape loads.
|13. Use ADD TO MAP to see the
|14. Examine the edges, for
example the extreme southeastern point, to see
that it is obviously a very low-resolution, utility file.
|15. So the
country files in this website are roughly the same low resolution as our
familiar World Borders data.
BOUNDARIES: From the tabs along the top, you can use this tab
to access a complete collection of all national boundaries and a host of
subsidiary areas, as you see here. To see how it works, select LIBERIA
from the list of "sovereign" areas. Then click SEARCH (just below it)
|17. This page of information
appears about Liberian data, and data it shares with its maritime neighbors.
Click on the GO TO MAP link.
|18. Here is the Liberia EEZ
alongside all its neighbors.
The EEZ of Liberia has
been calculated without treaty available. Depending on which GIS software
you use, this boundary can differ slightly"
|19. Return to the previous
page, and select the GML link for download and saving.
|20. Navigate to the folder
DATA > BASEMAP > BORDERS > MARINEREGIONS and save it with the name shown
here. Make sure you use SAVE
AS TYPE > ALL FILES so Windows won't add a different extension.
|21. Here Saga has used its GDAL/OGR import routine (as you saw above) to load the display the EEZ
polygon (green) with the national borders polygon (red).
|22. If you save
the EEZ polygon as a shape, then you can save the whole map (i.e. both
polygons) as a Saga project file (*.sprj) for easy redrawing. SPRJ
files can't contain GML files yet, so the shapefile conversion is needed.
What about the QUERY DATABASE BY COORDINATE section? If, for
example, you know a particular location on the globe, as a
longitude/latitude pair, then you can enter the coordinates here to see if
you are in somebody's EEZ. This would be quite useful for planning
cruises and instrument installations. By international law, you should
even ask permission to take water samples inside somebody else's EEZ.
From the tabs along the top, you can use this tab to access a collection of
the principal global datasets. Of course, this overlaps with the
previous access methods.
For example, click on MARINE ECOREGIONS OF THE
|25. This page opens,
describing MEOW, with a global map. It's not easy to read here, but we
wanted to show you a good example of the level of detail available.
the vector data for the polygons, cluck in DOWNLOAD MEOW.
|26. This permission document
opens, which you should fill out; then click AGREE and DOWNLOAD.
27. Navigate to the folder DATA > BASEMAP > BORDERS > MARINEREGIONS
and save the file as marine_ecoregions_world_marineregions.zip
|28. Whether the contained
vector data are shapes or GML, you know now how to unzip them and load into
Here's the global polygon presented with ADD TO MAP in Saga.
|29. You can use the ACTION tool and
the ATTRIBUTES tab to see the metadata about any polygon. Here the
area offshore Liberia has been selected (shown in red).
You can see that
most of Liberia's offshore area is within TROPICAL ATLANTIC > GULF OF GUINEA
> GULF OF GUINEA WEST. Biologists can ponder over the consequences of
|30. There is a
huge selection of mapping schema you can collect for your purposes.
Take your time to go through the global collections list, and save whatever
you need now. Older version of MDL exercises added many of them to the
project area map, but you don't need to do this now, just as long as you know
how to do it.
31. STATISTICS: From the tabs along the top, you can use this tab to access a compendium of
data about the data presented here. "At the moment the Marine Regions
lists and provides geographical relations on more than 40,127 place names,
representing 32,402 marine geographic places. The scope of Marine Regions is
global, but there is at the moment a geographic focus on European, North
American and Antarctic marine waters. " [From VLIZ] This
excellent map gives you an idea of the enormous scale of this project.
From the tabs along the top, you can use this tab to access a final
summarization of the major, global shapefiles available. [This single page
used to be the focus of this whole MDL exercise.]
To build your own
complete collection of all EEZ's, click on the first link.
|33. This list of all versions
of the World EEZ files, from earliest to the present, appears. It is
important to note here that prior to the magnificent efforts of VLIZ, the
only source of these data was a commercial CD that cost thousands of dollars
and required a $500/year updating service.
Right now, select either the
full resolution ("DOWNLOAD") or the small version ("LOW RES") -- or even KML
-- for saving.
You must also fill in a request form as you did above.
|34. Whichever version you
requested, the folder will contain these files:
- WORLD MARITIME BOUNDARIES - Lines shapes of the seaward
boundaries of national claims
- WORLD EEZ - Polygon shapes of the EEZ's for each
|35. Here's a map of the two
datasets, showing the difference. [Actually the low resolution
|36. So this give
you a good introduction to the amazing MarineRegions resource collection.
You should, of course, work through it on your own, with a view toward areas
and scientific topics of personal interest. Good luck.
|37. As always,
make sure to save any vectors as shapefiles if you want to reopen them
easily as Saga projects. Also, either use the long filenames
recommended here, or make up your own that might make more sense to you.
Then apply these names in Saga and use them for the saving. It's
terrible to work all day on a great map and then not be able to find it
later due to name problems.