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ESE - Ecology and Ecosystem Health

High-Resolution Map of Limits of Oceans and Seas (HRMLOS)



This dataset is a vector map of the limits of oceans and seas that we constructed based on the document S-23 Limits of Oceans and Seas published by the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO). We used the third edition of this text (1953), the one still officially in force. The main innovations of our map are its accuracy, precision (ca. 10 seconds of meridian arc), and consistency with other global datasets, such as the GSHHS database and satellite imagery from LANDSAT and MODIS.
Details of map construction and remaining uncertainties are available here.

Comments about this map are welcome (please send to

Conditions of use

This map is freely available for non-commercial use.
It is registered with the French Agence pour la Protection des Programmes (APP) and has the following Inter Deposit Digital Number (IDDN): IDDN.FR.001.500006.000.R.C.2011.000.40000.


Please cite this map with the following reference:
Fourcy, D. and Lorvelec, O., 2013. A new digital map of limits of oceans and seas consistent with high-resolution global shorelines. Journal of Coastal Research, 29(2), 471-477. DOI:10.2112/JCOASTRES-D-12-00079.1


This map is available in ESRI shapefile format. In this shapefile, the limits of seas were merged with the shoreline of the GSHHS database (Wessel and Smith 1996), and names are those of the IHO 1953 nomenclature.


IHO, 1953. Limits of Oceans and Seas, 3rd edition. Special Publication no. 23 (S-23).