Marine and coastal areas are classified in this paper according to attributes of the physical environment and by the faunal assemblages involved. Oceanic and coastal-margin realms are defined and mapped with the marginal seas and archipelagos named according to their connections to oceanic realms. There are seven types of ocean realms and thirteen types of coastal-margin realms. Latitudinal symmetry is present between hemispheres and from ocean basin to ocean basin. The defining characteristics for these realms are the seasonal variations in ocean surface currents and the companion seasonal variations in the main wind-currents of the atmosphere.
Forty faunal provinces are indicated on the six maps of the oceanic and coastal realms. As sufficient database for their inclusion is not yet available, coastal marine and coastal terrestrial floristics and vegetation are not considered in this classification.
While the boundaries between faunal provinces do not always match boundaries between ocean and coastal realms, the foundation is laid for a binominal designation system with the coastal or oceanic realm as ‘genus’ and the faunal province as the ‘epithet’—e.g. Western Subtropical—Cortezian. With this system, global intercomparisons become manageable. For example, the Western Subtropical-Cortezian can be directly contrasted with the Western Subtropical—Louisianian and the Western Subtropical—Southwestern Australian.