This may seem like a very simple request, but does anyone have or know where I can get a shapefile of the ocean around the US? The only thing I can find within my ArcGIS BA is the ocean background, which doesn't do me much good when I'm trying to cover up heat map data.

If this is not possible can someone tell me how to convert a raster (heat map) to a shapefile?

  • 2
    What distinction are you making between an ocean shapefile and "ocean background"? If you're trying to mask a raster to land only, it would seem that a "background" dataset would be ideal. If your "heat map data" are actually for oceans and not for land, there's no problem there, either, because the (set-theoretic) complement of the ocean is, of course, the land, and the complement is easily computed in many ways. BTW, what does "BA" mean?
    – whuber
    Dec 14, 2011 at 20:21
  • BA = Bathymetry Analyst?
    – nmpeterson
    Dec 14, 2011 at 21:08
  • 1
    Most often Esri users refer to the Business Analyst extension as BA. Dec 14, 2011 at 21:38
  • The ocean background, no matter where it is placed within the layers, sits in the background and the heat map raster covers it. I'm looking for an ocean file (maybe more specifically: the US coasts) that I can place atop my heat map to hide the ocean overlap. BA = Business Analyst.
    – Erin
    Dec 14, 2011 at 21:47
  • If the ocean layer is not of polygon type, close it up and make it a polygon. Make sure to display it with a solid fill: then it will mask the unwanted parts of the "heat map." Alternatively, you probably already have a polygon or raster layer of the US: compute its complement (either as a polygon or raster) and use that as a visual mask. One advantage of using the material you already have is that you won't run into problems trying to match coordinate systems and datums.
    – whuber
    Dec 15, 2011 at 0:13

1 Answer 1


Both land and ocean shapefiles can be found at Natural Earth: http://www.naturalearthdata.com/downloads/110m-physical-vectors/


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