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Public-images-osm logo.svg natural = reef
Vanatinai, Louisiade Archipelago.jpg
A feature (rock, sandbar, coral, etc) lying permanently beneath the surface of the water. Show/edit corresponding data item.
Rendering in OSM Carto
Natural reef-100.png
Group: marine
Used on these elements
may be used on nodesmay be used on waysmay be used on areas (and multipolygon relations)should not be used on relations (except multipolygon relations)
Useful combination
Status: de facto

A  reef is a rock, sandbar or other feature (such as coral, stromatolites...) that lies permanently beneath the surface of the water but close to the surface (permanently means at low tide for the seas).

However note that small parts of reefs may be exposed at low tide, but not the entire feature. Reefs are never exposed at high tide.

How to map


To map a reef you can just draw a line closing on itself, marking the area area of the reef and tag it with natural=reef. To map larger or ring shaped reefs, use a multipolygon relation.

If you do not know the exact area of the reef you can map it as a node node or as a not closed way way.

Common combinations

  • name=* for the name of the reef
  • reef=* to specify the type of reef, for example reef=coral

Mapping caveats

This tag should not be used for:

  • features that rise permanently above the water - use place=island/islet instead and add the type of soil/vegetation if you know it (sand, bare_rock, scrub...). If the area is in a sea, don't forget to add natural=coastline (not needed for a inland piece of water).
  • features exposed at low tide but water covered at high tide - use the more appropriate tags between natural=shoal or natural=sand + tidal=yes (if the area is sand or gravel like for the lower part of beaches lying below the water level at high tide), natural=bare_rock/rock + tidal=yes (for rocks) and natural=wetland + wetland=tidalflat (for tidal flats, i.e. muddy areas, see mudflat on Wikipedia).
  • Raised areas of the seabed that generally aren't close enough to the surface to be a hazard to surface navigation, consider subsea=bank instead.


See also

Possible synonyms

If you know places with this tag, verify if it could be tagged with another tag.
Automated edits are strongly discouraged unless you really know what you are doing!