This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. (Learn how and when to remove these template messages) This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Seascape" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (March 2023) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) This article has an unclear citation style. The references used may be made clearer with a different or consistent style of citation and footnoting. (March 2023) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
The Wave by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Summer Squall, 1904. A seascape by Winslow Homer.

A seascape is a photograph, painting, or other work of art which depicts the sea, in other words an example of marine art. The word originated as a formation from landscape, which was first used of images of land in art. By a similar development, "seascape" has also come to mean actual perceptions of the sea itself. It is applied in planning contexts to geographical locations possessing a good view of the sea. Seascape aesthetics receive legal protection in terms of biodiversity/ health of the seas (the OSPAR Convention), and in terms of the visual bio-cultural seascape (European Landscape Convention).[1]


The word seascape was first recorded and coined in 1790.[citation needed] Smithsonian noted in 2016 that the first use it found was 1804.[2] The term was modelled after the word landscape. In modern times, seascapes have endured partially in depictions of maritime works of art, as well as views of the sea.

Planning use

A seascape photograph at Clifton Beach, South Arm, Tasmania, Australia

In the UK a seascape is defined in planning and land use contexts as a combination of adjacent land, coastline and sea within an area, defined by a mix of land-sea inter-visibility and coastal landscape character assessment, with major headlands forming division points between one seascape area and the next. This approach to coastal landscape planning was developed jointly by Government environmental bodies in Wales (UK) and Ireland in 2000 to assist spatial planning for (at that time new) offshore wind farm developments. The resulting "Guide to best practice in seascape assessment"[3] (Marine Institute, Ireland, 2001), have since been adapted and applied in Scotland[4] and Wales[5] for guidance to offshore wind farm developers and for carrying out spatial planning assessments.

Meanwhile, the word has also been adopted in England [6] referring to the historic and archaeological character areas of the sea – a different but complementary methodological approach encompassing what lies beneath the sea surface. This use of the word departs from the focus on scenery and visual perception, relying instead just on cognitive perception (what lies beneath the sea surface is out of sight to most of us).

The Welsh language distinguishes between 'Morluniau' (seascape in the traditional sense of a picture, view or painting) and 'Morweddau' (seascape as a distinct, geographical area exhibiting particular characteristics and qualities). There is no such distinction in the English language.


  1. ^ Chapter 3.6 in Moss, Joanne “Critical perspectives: North Sea offshore wind farms.: Oral histories, aesthetics and selected legal frameworks relating to the North Sea.” (2021) Retrieved 2 October 2023
  2. ^ Blei, Daniela (23 June 2016). "Inventing the Beach: The Unnatural History of a Natural Place". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 2023-03-16.
  3. ^ Guide to the Best Practice in Seascape Assessment
  4. ^ [1][permanent dead link](Scottish Natural Heritage, UK, 2004) and in England "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-03-04. Retrieved 2010-03-19.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)(Defra, 2005)
  5. ^ "Archived version of from 2010". Archived from the original on 2010-04-05. Retrieved 2023-03-16.
  6. ^ "English Heritage". Retrieved 2023-03-16.