What Google Earth did for mapping the Earth they now plan to do for the Earth's oceans. Launched February 2, Ocean in Google Earth will allow users to navigate underwater without a snorkel, exploring shipwrecks, algal blooms, maps of tiny phytoplankton, even the homes of the jaunty nudibranchs. Within the layers, users can check out multimedia features that combine data and maps with videos, quizzes and other interactives, as well as photos from National Geographic. The idea for Google Ocean came about after Google Geo Products director John Hanke had a conversation a few years ago with NatGeo explorer-in-residence Sylvia Earle, marine biologist and tireless champion of the ocean and its inhabitants. She told John when he was working on Google Earth: "I hope someday, John, you'll finish [Google Earth]. You've done a great job with the dirt, but there's all that water out there-- the world is blue."
In addition to National Geographic, several well-known marine institutions such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Scripps, and Woods Hole have contributed data.