Washington, Feb 3 (ANI): Fascinated by the blue ocean, but don't know how to swim? Well, take heart, for Google has launched Ocean in Google Earth that allows users to navigate underwater in unprecedented clarity.
Ocean builds on the free, popular 3-D mapping software Google Earth, the company's virtual Earth model.
With the help of the latest version of the Google Earth software, users can clearly see the oceanic mountain ranges, trenches and abyssal plains.
New "layers" to the satellite-based software include topographic maps of the seafloor; locations of shipwrecks and algal blooms; and even maps of the tiny phytoplankton that provide the bulk of the ocean's food chain.
The layers help users to explore multimedia features that combine data and maps with videos, quizzes, and other interactives.
The tool also boasts a new fish-eye view, which is accessible via a free upgrade.
John Hanke, director of Geo Products at Google said that the fish-eye view aims to provide a public platform for users to talk about the oceans.
"It really is a means... [of] raising geographical awareness of oceans and ... the pressures that are being put on life in the ocean," National Geographic News quoted him as saying.
The idea for this software first came to well-known marine biologist Sylvia Earle, who hopes that it will help protect the seas in their time of need.
"Maybe this will help people see how the ocean and land are interconnected and stir them into action. There's a lot of ocean out there that we have to explore and communicate with the world," she said.
For developing the software, collected most of the information from the US navy. Thus, there are some "sensitive" areas left blank.
Other navies and research institutions around the world also provided data, helping Google Earth's software engineers to stitch together a map with a resolution in the order of 500 to 1000 metres.
In areas where a lot of research groups operate, such as Monterey Bay in California, the resolution is down to a couple of metres - better than most of the land maps in Google Earth.
Google hopes researchers will continue to contribute to the project.
"Our hope is that people who have these small patches of good data will be excited and come out of the woodwork," said Google Ocean's lead developer Steve Miller. (ANI)