I had the honor and pleasure this morning of attending - at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco - the official launch of Google Earth ver. 5.0, the most impressive part of which is “Ocean in Google Earth.” The new Ocean component is an amazing combination of media, research and technology designed to bring the “rest” of humanity more closely and easily in touch with what all of us who are divers already appreciate and love…and hopefully make them more interested in preserving life in the seas.
The new version of Google Earth enables users to dive “virtually” beneath the water surface, explore 3D uw terrain and browse ocean-related content (videos, photos, etc.) contributed by leaders in ocean science and advocacy (National Geographic, NOAA, the BCC, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Scripps, WWF…you get the idea). The spirit and driving force behind the project is a delightful little lady, Dr. Sylvia Earle, one of the best known oceanographers and ocean conservation voices in the world. I was invited to participate in the project a few months ago when one of the key people saw my “grinning shark” and wanted to include it - and a few of my other photos - in the project.
The launch event itself was very cool, with speakers including not only Sylvia Earle, but Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Terry Garcia of National Geographic, former Vice President Al Gore, and Jimmy Buffett (who has taken a stronger turn towards conservation activism in recent years). Remarks centered around development of the Ocean component for G.E., as well as demonstrations of its impressive functionality. I got to shake the hands of, and chat briefly with, Al Gore (my assistant, Andi, will be so jealous!), Jimmy Buffett (one of my co-workers, a true parrot-head, will be so jealous!) and of course Sylvia Earle, who is simply bubbling over with enthusiasm for ocean conservation! What an inspiration - she makes us feel like we all could—and should—do more to save the oceans…
Anyway, if you didn’t know about the release of Google Earth 5.0, you’ll want to hit the link in the first paragraph and download it! It was a cool thing before “Ocean” was added; now it’s also a great conservation tool for people around the world to learn more about why the oceans are worth saving!