Online search powerhouse Google launched a new service on Monday to allow Internet users to explore the depths of the world’s oceans from the comfort of their homes on dry land.
The “Ocean in Google Earth” feature allows users to virtually dive beneath the water surface, explore 3D underwater terrain and browse ocean-related content contributed by marine scientists.
Ocean in Google Earth was unveiled formally at the San Francisco Academy of Sciences by former vice president Al Gore, acclaimed oceanographer Sylvia Earle and Google executives.
“With this version of Google Earth... you can now dive into the world’s oceans that cover almost three quarters of the planet and discover new wonders,” said Gore, a champion in the battle against climate change.
Users can click icons on sea maps to see video of creatures that thrive in those locations. Internet surfers can opt to swim virtually undersea as though they are sharks, dolphins or turtles.
The feature includes 20 different layers of content contributed by leading ocean explorers, scientists and researchers, like photos and videos of “hot spots” around the world and information on marine protected areas.
Since its launch in June 2005, Google Earth has been downloaded more than 400 million times.