Google Earth dives into the ocean blue

3 Feb 2009

The newest version of Google’s globe-trotting desktop application Google Earth is bringing us into uncharted waters, literally, with the ability to explore the ocean floor in 3D and swim with the fishes as they travel on their migratory paths.

Up until now we have been privy to some great explorations of countries, famous landmarks and even travels through ancient Rome on Google Earth, but as Sylvia A Earle, explorer-in-residence at National Geographic, said on the official Google Earth blog, it was more Google Dirt than Google Earth!

Her conversation with Google Earth and Maps director John Hanke some three years ago led to a collaboration, along with the US Navy, NASA, the BBC and other organisations, that produced the new Ocean view.

“You can swim with whales, inspect coral reefs or see the impact of destructive fishing. Anyone now can slip into the sea and find hundreds of images of creatures and see them on their own terms, underwater,” said Earle.

“Now, you can dive to the deepest place in the ocean, the Mariana Trench, where only two people have ever actually been – in 1960.”

Google Ocean has 14 different layers including Shipwrecks, Ocean Expeditions, Animal Tracking and Cousteau Ocean World.

Cousteau Ocean World has some great classic footage from the famed ocean explorer, Jacques Cousteau, via YouTube, of sea turtle hatchlings or the seabirds of Isabela.

Animal Tracking gives you the opportunity to swim with sea predators – I swam with a female white shark, Tag No 4009, as she journeyed off the coast of San Francisco. This truly was an amazing feeling to be able to go on the same journey as this predatory shark as she made her way past Gumdrop Seamount and rounded Pioneer Canyon.

So, if you have nothing planned for this evening, take a dive with Google Earth and explore some of the most fascinating and beautiful sights on earth. Top notch.

By Marie Boran

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