Introduction

The primary objective of the Research Project was to provide baseline information for further research on marine ecosystems and biodiversity of insular geographic features in the South China Sea (SCS). It involved a satellite image-based mapping of all visible insular geographic features in the SCS, including natural and man-made features, description of their geographic characteristics, natural coastal and marine habitats as well as land cover. Sea-level variations were also studied and taken into account in the mapping and analysis. The geographic scope encompassed all the insular features in the central deep basin of the SCS, including the Spratly Islands, Paracel Islands, Macclesfield Bank and Scarborough Shoal. It excludes the coastlines of the bordering States.

Investigations were carried out by a pluri-disciplinary research team from the National University of Singapore (NUS) in physical oceanography and sea level modelling, remote sensing science applied to bathymetry calculation and marine habitat mapping as well as geography, marine ecology and marine policy. The main research centres involved were the Centre for Remote Imaging, Sensing and Processing (CRISP), the Physical Oceanography Lab of the Tropical Marine Science Institute (TMSI) and the Centre for International Law (CIL), the primary coordinator of the Project. The entire deep basin of the South China Sea was first studied using Landsat imagery to select all visible shallow geographic features (generally defined to be not more than 10-20m deep). The selected features were then studied using high resolution satellite data acquired for the Project. The Research Project was carried out between October 2014 and July 2016.

Each shallow feature has been the subject of:

  • calculation of depth;
  • study of sea level variations over that feature;
  • identification of marine habitat type and land cover classification;
  • integration of these data into a descriptive summary.

The results of the study are summarised in 139 Description Sheets that can be accessed below by clicking directly on the name of the relevant geographic feature listed alphabetically or as marked out on the Maps of the Northern and Southern parts of the South China Sea. The following documents can also be accessed by clicking on their name: The Legends, a Readers’ Guide, a Glossary of the Terms used, the Methodology, a Table of Features Studied with their corresponding names set out in Chinese (pinyin and characters), Filipino, Malay and Vietnamese languages and a Table of the Satellite Images reviewed for all features (including those that were considered to be not shallow enough to justify a study with high-resolution satellite data).

The results of the study can also be visualised on CRISP’s Online Research Mapping Tool (or ORMT platform) here.

For any questions on the Project or requests for metadata, please fill in the request form here.

Southern South China Sea

Geographic Feature Independent Unit of Coral Formation
Alexandra Bank Alexandra Bank
Alicia Annie Reef Alicia Annie Reef
Alison Reef Alison Reef
Amboyna Cay Amboyna Cay
Amy Douglas Bank Reed Tablemount
Ardasier Bank Ardasier Bank
Ardasier Reef Ardasier Bank
Baker Reef Reed Tablemount
Bamford Reef Union Reefs
Barque Canada Reef Barque Canada Reef
Bombay Shoal Bombay Shoal
Boxall Reef Boxall Reef
Brown Bank Brown, Leslie, Templer and Wood Banks
Central Reef Central Reef
Collins Reef Union Reefs
Commodore Reef Commodore Reef
Comus Shoal Comus Shoal
Cornwallis South Reef Cornwallis South Reef
Cuarteron Reef Cuarteron Reef
Dallas Reef Dallas Reef
Discovery Great Reef Discovery Great Reef
Discovery Small Reef Discovery Small Reef
East Reef East Reef
Eastern Reef Thitu Reefs
Edmund Reef Union Reefs
Eldad Reef Tizard Bank
Empire Reef Tizard Bank
Erica Reef Erica Reef
Fiery Cross Reef Fiery Cross Reef
First Thomas Shoal First Thomas Shoal
Flat Island Flat-Nanshan Islands Bank
Gaven Reefs Tizard Bank
Gent Reef Union Reefs
Grainger Bank Grainger Bank
Grierson Reef Union Reefs
Half Moon Shoal Half Moon Shoal
Hallet Reef Union Reefs
Hardy Reef Hardy Reef
Hayes Reef Hayes Reef
Higgens Reef Union Reefs
Holiday Reef Union Reefs
Hopkins Reef Reed Tablemount
Hopps Reef Hopps Reef
Hughes Reef Union Reefs
Investigator Northeast Shoal Investigator Northeast Shoal
Investigator Shoal Investigator Shoal
Iroquois Reef Reed Tablemount
Irving Reef Irving Reef
Itu Aba Tizard Bank
Jackson Atoll Jackson Atoll
Johnson South Reef Union Reefs
Jones Reef Union Reefs
Kugui Reefs Loaita Bank
Ladd Reef Ladd Reef
Lankiam Cay Loaita Bank
Lansdowne Reef Unions Reefs
Leslie Bank Brown, Leslie, Templer and Wood Banks
Livock Reef Livock Reef
Loaita Bank Overall Loaita Bank
Loaita Cay Loaita Bank
Loaita Island Loaita Bank
Geographic Feature Independent Unit of Coral Formation
Loaita Nan Loaita Bank
Loaita Bank Unnamed Reef 1 Loaita Bank
Louisa Reef Louisa Reef
Loveless Reef Union Reefs
Luconia Breakers South Luconia Shoals
Lys Shoal Lys Shoal and Trident Shoal
Marie Louise Reef Reed Tablemount
Maralie Reef Maralie Reef
Mariveles Reef Mariveles Reef
McKennan Reef Union Reefs
Meijiu Reef Thitu Reefs
Menzies Reef Loaita Bank
Mischief Reef Mischief Reef
Namyit Island Tizard Bank
Nanshan Island Flat-Nanshan Islands Bank
North Danger Reef Overall North Danger Reef
North Luconia Shoals Overall North Luconia Shoals
North Reef North Danger Reef
Northeast Cay North Danger Reef
Pearson Reef Pearson Reef
Pennsylvania North Reef Reed Tablemount
Petley Reef Tizard Bank
Pigeon Reef Pigeon Reef
Prince Consort Bank Overall Prince Consort Bank
Prince of Wales Bank Overall Prince of Wales Bank
Reed Tablemount and Nares Bank Overall Reed Tablemount
Rifleman Bank Overall Rifleman Bank
Ross Reef Union Reefs
Royal Captain Shoal Royal Captain Shoal
Royal Charlotte Reef Royal Charlotte Reef
Sabina Shoal Sabina Shoal
Sand Cay Tizard Bank
Sandy Cay Thitu Reefs
Scarborough Shoal Scarborough Shoal
Seahorse Breakers North Luconia Shoals
Seahorse Shoal Seahorse Shoal
Second Thomas Shoal Second Thomas Shoal
Sin Cowe Island Union Reefs
South Luconia Shoals Overall South Luconia Shoals
South Reef North Danger Reef
Southern Bank Southern Bank
Southwest Cay North Danger Reef
Spratly Island Spratly Island
Subi Reef Subi Reef
Swallow Reef Swallow Reef
Templer Bank Brown, Leslie, Templer and Wood Banks
Tetley Reef Union Reefs
Thitu Island Thitu Reefs
Thitu Reefs Overall Thitu Reefs
Tizard Bank Overall Tizard Bank
Trident Shoal Lys Shoal and Trident Shoal
Union Reefs Overall Union Reefs
Union Reefs Unnamed Reef 1 Union Reefs
Vanguard Bank Overall Vanguard Bank
West Reef West Reef
West York Island West York Island
Western Reef Western Reef
Whitsun Reef Union Reefs
Wood Bank Brown, Leslie, Templer and Wood Banks
Zhongzhou Reef Tizard Bank

Northern South China Sea

Geographic Feature Independent Unit of Coral Formation
Amphitrite Group Overall Amphitrite Group
Antelope Reef Crescent Group
Bombay Reef Bombay Reef
Bremen Bank Bremen, Jehangire and Neptuna Banks, Pyramid Rock and Lincoln Island
Crescent Group Overall Crescent Group
Discovery Reef Discovery Reef
Drummond Island Crescent Group
Duncan Island Crescent Group
Iltis Bank Amphitrite Group
Jehangire Bank Bremen, Jehangire and Neptuna Banks, Pyramid Rock and Lincoln Island
Kuangzai Cay Crescent Group
Lincoln Island Bremen, Jehangire and Neptuna Banks, Pyramid Rock and Lincoln Island
Macclesfield Bank Macclesfield Bank
Middle Island Amphitrite Group
Middle Sand Amphitrite Group
Money Island Crescent Group
Neptuna Bank Bremen, Jehangire and Neptuna Banks, Pyramid Rock and Lincoln Island
North Island Amphitrite Group
Geographic Feature Independent Unit of Coral Formation
North Reef North Reef
North Sand Amphitrite Group
Observation Bank Crescent Group
Palm Island Crescent Group
Passu Keah Passu Keah
Pattle Island Crescent Group
Pyramid Rock Bremen, Jehangire and Neptuna Banks, Pyramid Rock and Lincoln Island
Quanfu Island Crescent Group
Robert Island Crescent Group
Shi Yu Crescent Group
South Island Amphitrite Group
South Sand Amphitrite Group
Tree Island Amphitrite Group
Triton Island Triton Island
Vuladdore Reef Vuladdore Reef
West Sand Amphitrite Group
Woody Island and Rocky Islet Amphitrite Group
Xianshe Yu Crescent Group
Yagong Island Crescent Group
Yin Yu Zai Crescent Group

Request for more information

We are happy to share habitat classification data for further research on the South China Sea. Timeframe to respond may vary. [ninja_form id=2]