Filipinos interested in exploring the country's mysterious underwater attractions should look no further than their own computers with the launch of Google Ocean, a new feature that enables users of Google Earth to dive beneath the water surface, explore 3D underwater terrain and browse ocean-related content contributed by leaders in ocean science and advocacy.
According to Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Ocean in Google Earth combines underwater terrain and expert content to provide users with an opportunity to explore some of the most difficult-to-reach parts of the world. In developing Google Ocean, the company used sonar data from the US Navy, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association and others to create a visual representation of the topographic landscape hidden beneath the sea.
Google Ocean users can now see vivid images of Apo Reed, explore famous Philippine dive spots like Siargao's Cloud Nine and Boracay's Bulabog Lagoon and see videos, images and articles about the exotic marine life of the region.
"With this latest version of Google Earth you can not only zoom into whatever part of our planet’s surface you wish to examine in closer detail, you can now dive into the world’s ocean that covers almost three-quarters of the planet and discover new wonders that had not been accessible in previous versions of this magical experience," said Al Gore at the launch event in San Francisco.
"Moreover, with the new historical imagery feature, you can look back in time and see for yourself the unprecedented pace of change taking place on the Earth — largely because of human influences. For example, you can watch the melting of the largest glacier in Glacier National Park--the Grinnell Glacier—image by image, for the last decade."
Dr. Michael Coyne, Director of seaturtle.org, said the new Google Ocean will add an important new dimension to tracking of all ocean wildlife, including sea turtles, whales, sharks, birds and seals. "Google Earth is a great way for researchers to visualize wildlife tracking data and Google Ocean allows us to see how marine animals move in relation to their environment," he stated.
"Google Ocean is revolutionary for our research, an amazing educational tool and it's just plain cool. It's the next best thing to being in the ocean itself," added Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, a research associate at California Academy of Sciences.
The Ocean feature is on by default in the newest version of Google Earth. As users zoom in on the ocean they will see a dynamic water surface, and once they dive beneath the surface they can navigate 3D sea floor terrain. The feature includes 20 content layers, containing information contributed by the world's leading scientists, researchers, and ocean explorers. These include:
* An "Explore the Ocean" layer containing photos and videos about ocean hot spots around the world contributed by over 80 individuals and organizations
* A National Geographic Magazine geo-quiz and overlays from their new Atlas of the Ocean
* Videos from the archives of Jacques Cousteau, featuring never-before-seen footage of historic ocean expeditions
"What this project helped me begin to understand," said John Hanke, Director of Google Earth and Maps, "is the role the ocean plays in global climate change and the impact that humans are having on the oceans and the creatures that live in it. It was a serious omission on our part not to include a better treatment of the oceans when we launched Google Earth, and I'm very happy that we've been able to address that. We now have a good substrate for publishing and exploring data about the 'other' two-thirds of the planet."
The new feature was developed in close collaboration with oceanographer and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Sylvia Earle and an advisory council of leading ocean advocates and scientists.
"I cannot imagine a more effective way to inspire awareness and caring for the blue heart of the planet than the new Ocean in Google Earth, " said Earle.
"For the first time, everyone from curious kids to serious researchers can see the world, the whole world, with new eyes. In a stroke, Google Earth brings life and character to the blue part of the planet, and makes obvious the many ways land, water, atmosphere and living systems connect. Many 'aha!' moments are sure to come as people discover new patterns, new correlations, and countless personal discoveries while vicariously diving into the waters of the world."
Also launched today were several new features of Google Earth, including:
Historical imagery: In previous versions of Google Earth, users could only view only one set of imagery for a given location. Now users can activate a time slider to see both new and older satellite imagery from around the globe, enabling them to observe a single location's development over time.
Touring is a simple new way for users to create narrated tours of imagery and content in Google Earth. By simply pressing the "record" button, users can fly from place to place, zoom in or out and click on content balloons, providing voiceover narration along the way. Whether creating a tour of one's family home or an in-depth study of environmental change, the tours are easy to create and even easier to share.
Mars 3D is the latest stop on Google's virtual tour of the galaxy. Users can travel to Mars with the click of a button and see high resolution imagery and 3D terrain. They can fly to the top of Olympus Mons, the tallest volcano in our solar system, read geo-located excerpts about different locations on the planet from A Traveler's Guide to Mars, observe where various Mars Rovers and Landers have touched down and much more.
GPS Tracking - Previously only available in the Plus and Pro versions of Google Earth, now all users can upload tracks from GPS devices to Google Earth, making it easy to visualize and record running, hiking and biking routes.
Google Earth 5.0 is now available in 40 languages (previously 26), including Filipino, as well as, English, French, Italian, German, Spanish (Spain), Spanish (Latin America), Dutch, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Polish, Turkish, Thai, Arabic, Swedish, Finnish, Danish, Portuguese (Portugal), Romanian, Hungarian, Hebrew, Indonesian, Czech, Greek, Norwegian, Vietnamese, Bulgarian, Croatian, Lithuanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Serbian, Catalan, Latvian, Ukrainian, and Hindi.