Google Earth’s ocean layer, added in February 2009, lets its users track white sharks, navigate the ocean floor, and explore marine sanctuaries with leading ocean scientists as their guides.
This virtual, three-dimensional tour takes the Google Earth team one step closer to creating a complete, interactive simulation of our planet—or what they call the Geoweb.
National Geographic, the BBC, The Nature Conservancy, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, among others, contributed data, images, and video to help Google create its ocean layer—and a global network of marine scientists is constantly adding new photos, video, and underwater topography.
A swim through the Google Earth ocean layer lets you poke around shipwrecks—for example, the USS Mississinewa, sunk in November 1944 by a Japanese torpedo—and underwater volcanoes and hydrothermal vents. On the California coast, you learn what species of shrimp and crab are harvested sustainably; you can follow satellite-tagged bluefin tunas, California sea lions, and fin whales; and you learn about conservation efforts as well as local dead zones.
Said marine biologist Stephanie Wear in an interview with CBS News, “Just as Google Earth has connected people to far-off places and made them real, this is going to connect people to the ocean and make it a much more real and accessible place.”