Coastal and Ocean Resources

Habitat Classification & Mapping

We create maps and coastal geographic information and analytical systems.

ShoreZone is a coastal benthic habitat mapping system that was developed in the late 1970s and substantially revised in the early 1990s with the addition of a biological component. This habitat mapping system is based on the visual and computer interpretation of aerial video and still images. The resulting database is a searchable inventory of intertidal and nearshore habitat attributes which can be used as a tool for science, education, resource management, and environmental hazard planning. The ShoreZone mapping system provides a spatial framework for coastal habitat assessments at local and regional scales. The system was initially applied in the 1980s and 1990s to map coastal features in British Columbia and Washington State. The Alaska ShoreZone was started in 2001 and now represents an unprecedented spatially contiguous dataset of imagery and habitat attributes spanning 110,000 km from California to the Beaufort Sea and the database is hosted by NOAA here. Below is a partial list of available data layers, please contact us for more information. 

  • Substrate size
  • Aspect
  • Slope
  • Wave energy
  • Width
  • Fetch
  • Coastal vulnerability index
  • Wave energy dissipation
  • Area
  • Environmental sensitivity index
  • Oil residency index
  • Anthropogenic modifications
  • Cultural features
  • Geomorphology
  • Biobands
  • Dominant process
  • Tide range
  • Length


We analyse geographic data for science, engineering, and resource management.

One of the many analytical services we provide is marine spatial planning. This involves the integrated management of marine uses and activities in a way that maintains ecological integrity and human values. From an ecological perspective, the objectives of marine planning should consider four basic ecosystem principles to maintain or restore: (1) native species diversity, (2) habitat diversity and heterogeneity, (3) key species, and (4) connectivity. These four points highlight current scientific evidence that suggests maintaining or restoring these attributes is necessary for healthy marine ecosystems and the provision of services from those ecosystems. Marxan is a tool used to identify optimal solutions that meet conservation targets for various ecological features (species, habitats) while minimizing the amount of area required and at the same time avoiding excessive fragmentation. There is increasing political pressure for evaluation of marine protection planning with respect to the intended objectives. Coastal and Ocean Resources uses the results of Marxan analyses as one of several data layers to help inform planning processes as well as performance evaluations.