This past Monday in San Francisco, I had the honor and pleasure to attend the unveiling of the newest version of Google Earth - which now incorporates the oceans as well. I was invited to represent the marine education and research organization InMER as a contributing partner to Google Earth. RTSea had provided video and photographic services during InMER's 2007 expedition to the Northwest Passage, above the Arctic Circle, and the resulting footage and images have been incorporated into the new Google Earth. (Previous postings on InMER and the Arctic: click here, here, and here.)
The unveiling took place at San Francisco's California Academy of Sciences with an A-list of dignitaries on hand including former Vice President Al Gore, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and world-renowned oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle. Dr. Earle was the prominent champion and driving source of inspiration for this new version, having once teasingly described the original Google Earth to its creators as "Google Dirt, because you left out over 70% of the planet."
With the new version of Google Earth, users are able to zoom in on the Earth's seas and literally dip below the surface to see an incredible perspective of our water planet. Numerous icons appear that provide text, videos, images, and links to additional information. If you ever found yourself wandering the land and zooming in on details with the old Google Earth, this new version will really have you hooked. But it's more than just a gimmick. This new version represents a serious academic and research tool for both schools and scientists alike, with a variety of visual perspectives of the oceans and a tremendous amount of data that will continue to grow over time as new information is added.
I feel very fortunate to have some of my work available on such a broad worldwide information platform. I thank InMER's CEO and founder, Ed Cassano, and Google for the opportunity and I hope to be able to participate in future contributions to help advance the world's knowledge and appreciation of our oceans.
We need to understand and protect the planet's oceans. None of us would be here without them.