Getting Your Feet Wet With Google Ocean: First Look in Images

Google takes a deep-sea plunge with Google Earth 5 beta, which adds a new feature called Google Ocean. With this introduction to the mapping software, you can travel far below the surface to spot shipwrecks, track the movements of great white sharks, and wander the ocean floor--no scuba equipment required.

Diving Deep With Google Ocean: First Look Plunge

Google Ocean is a major part of the Google Earth 5 beta update. Now you can dive as deep into the ocean as you could soar high above the Rocky Mountains with Google Earth.

Thanks to Google's partnership with more than 20 different content providers, including the U.S. Navy, NOAA, NASA, the National Geographic, and BBC (to name a few), you can "fly" beneath the ocean to the Titanic or follow sea turtles as they migrate across the sea.

To get started, download Google Earth 5 beta and put a check mark next to the 'Oceans' layer in the Google Earth software. Now you're ready to be a desktop Jacques Cousteau.

Surfing Google Ocean for Davy Jones's Locker

Google Ocean lists many underwater shipwrecks such as this one of the HMCS Canada, which sank under mysterious circumstances off the Florida Keys in 1926. Shipwreck data provided within Google Ocean may include YouTube videos, images, and historical information. This shipwreck includes a video of a dive exploration of HMCS Canada from

One disappointing aspect of Google Ocean is that the program doesn't let you zoom down and then into the water to see shipwrecks. Instead, you have to click the shipwreck icon to explore a wreck via pictures, videos, and written history.

Octopus's Garden in the Shade

Diving into the waters just off the coast of Hawaii, you can explore the ridges of this submerged volcanic landscape. Here is an image of Waikolu Canyon just off the coast of the Hawaiian island of Maui.

Save the Whales (and a Reef) With Google Ocean

Google Ocean also gives Google Earth surfers a way to contribute to the preservation of delicate marine environments. Shown here are spectacular images from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park off the coast of Australia. The information is presented alongside a link that takes visitors to Protect Planet Ocean Web sites, where they can donate money to save the reef or buy Great Barrier Reef merchandise (such as caps, calendars, and framed artwork), with proceeds going to save the reef.

Take a Dive With National Geographic

National Geographic provides a wealth of content to Google Ocean, from beautiful photography of giant schools of sardines migrating through the Gulf of Mexico to videos of humpback whales off the Hawaiian coast. Icons appear over spots in the ocean; clicking an icon opens a balloon that offers multimedia content.

Desktop Shark Tracking

An organization called Global Tagging of Pelagic Predators lets you track great white sharks, sperm whales, humpback whales, and sea turtles across the ocean. Thanks to Google Ocean mapping data and archival electronic tagging data (transmitted from tags affixed to the animals), you can follow the deep-sea wanderings of these creatures over time.

Hanging Ten in Google Ocean

Google Ocean isn't all serious science. It offers plenty of images of recreational and sports settings, too. This view of the island of Teahupoo (southwest of Tahiti) shows the spectacular waves that surfers hang ten on. Similarly Google Ocean provides information on kite surfing and scuba diving.

Arctic Ocean Exploration

BBC Planet Earth is a major contributor to Google Ocean. The content supplied by the BBC here is very slick, with great photography, fascinating videos, and a very useful 'next' button that will take you from one interesting oceanic locale on BBC Planet Earth to another.

This image shows the ice fields of the Igloolik Islands near Greenland.

For other great Google Earth slide shows, check out In Pictures: Most Spectacular Sights in Google Sky and In Pictures: The Strangest Sights in Google Earth.

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