Today, Google announced the addition of an “Oceans” layer to its popular and powerful Google Earth software. With the Google Earth 5.0 upgrade, you can now zoom in and navigate the hills and canyons of the ocean floor the same way you always could navigate through mountains and cities on land. Fortunately, the waters off Hawaii are a particularly rich new area for virtual exploration.
As rich and complete as Google’s 3-D globe originally was, the ocean — which covers two thirds of the planet’s surface — was represented merely as flat shades of blue. The new “Oceans” layer comes from two years of work with partners ranging from National Geographic to the U.S. Navy, incorporating thousands of pieces of data to create a detailed map of the ocean floor.
But only five percent of the seafloor has been mapped, so much of the “Oceans” layer is still incomplete. Fortunately, there has been no shortage of study and exploration of Hawaiian waters, meaning the Google Earth tour of underwater Hawaii is especially rich and detailed.
Zoom in on Hawaii in Google Earth, and you’ll see shipwrecks, reefs, popular dive spots and surf breaks. There are links everywhere, featuring photos, videos, and informational entries about the ocean’s topography, geology, and biodiversity. It won’t take long before you lose yourself under the sea, getting a view of the islands many of us probably never had before.