I am looking for free Bathymetric contour data in shapefile format for depths between 0-200 meters for North America (including Canada, especially Vancouver, BC). I prefer contours at 10 meter increments, but will take whatever I can get.

I have found Bathymetric layers for 0 and 200 meters from http://www.naturalearthdata.com/downloads/10m-physical-vectors/. However, I need more detail within that range.

My questions are:

  • Where can I find freely available Bathymetric data between 0-200 meters for North America?
  • How did you find the data and what did you use to search for it?

2 Answers 2


OpenStreetMap to the rescue! Its cycling map shows contour lines and shaded relief (even in Canada):

(source: opencyclemap.org)

Like most open data projects (probably Natural Earth, too), they use NASA's SRTM (OSM Wiki) dataset that has global coverage, as far as I know. As you seem to need contour shapefiles, refer to the article Contours (OSM Wiki) for a workflow on how to convert raw SRTM data to shapefiles using GDAL.

Jackpot: Apparently, OpenDEM went through the effort of preparing contour shapefiles worldwide from SRTM with 25m precision. They offer a pretty convenient download for an arbitrary region. (Download manager or wget recommended.)

How I found the data: For all my spatial data needs, usually before googling, I have a look at the OpenStreetMap Wiki and search for relevant keywords, in this case: contour, height, SRTM.


Bathymetry data for North America can be found at Data.gov from NOAA, NASA, and the Department of the Interior. Data specific to Vancouver (or any area) can be found by drawing a boundary box on the map in the left side of the page around the area in which you are interested. Alternatively, you can search for the resolution or elevation and area in the search box at the top of the page.

The datasets you are looking for are likely at this view of Vancouver data. There is also a large collection of 71 datasets specific to elevation and bathymetry data available at the Ocean.Data.gov community on Data.gov.

(Disclaimer: I am the Evangelist for Data.gov)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.