• 04.08.10

Google Expands Google Earth to the Sea, Includes Mission Blue’s Hope Spots Initiative

Google Earth isn’t just about the land anymore–Google expanded their “ocean” layer and officially added it to the default view for all Google Earth users.

Google ocean layer

Google‘s Ocean layer, which was introduced last year, is filled with hundreds of place marks, from natural features like coral reefs to man-made shipwrecks and geographic ridges and chasms. The data comes from organizations including the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Here’s what you can do with it:


Double click on the “Explore the Ocean” layer and it will fly you to my
Ocean Overview video and 10 focus areas with National Geographic video
clips. Other layers include dynamic sea surface temperature, Census of
Marine Life data, Marine Protected Areas, shipwrecks, dive and surf
sites, Arkive images, Planet Earth footage from the BBC, and much more.
You can even visit a 3-D model of the undersea laboratory Aquarius and
fly to the Titanic and follow the expedition that
discovered it.

Even more, they’ve begun work with Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue Foundation, which is attempting to create a series of “Hope Spots,” protected marine areas. Eighteen of those areas are represented in Google Earth now, so you can visit them, learn about them, and learn what you can do to ensure their health. There’s even a tour:

We’ve also created a narrated tour featured in the Ocean Showcase
to introduce you to eight of the regions proposed for protection: the
Eastern Pacific Seascape including the Galapagos Islands, the Gulf of
California, the Mesoamerican Reef in the Caribbean including Belize, the
Sargasso Sea in the mid-Atlantic, the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian
Ocean, the Coral Triangle, the Ross Sea in the Antarctic and Gakkel
Ridge in the Arctic.

The open feel of Zooming around the oceans is new and unexpected–think of it as the interactive version of a great BBC nature documentary. They’ve added it right into Google Earth, so all you have to do is open it up and start zooming.

About the author

Dan Nosowitz is a freelance writer and editor who has written for Popular Science, The Awl, Gizmodo, Fast Company, BuzzFeed, and elsewhere. He holds an undergraduate degree from McGill University and currently lives in Brooklyn, because he has a beard and glasses and that's the law.