The Beacon

Ubiquitous Google strikes again

Google has already been good to Oceana, and now the online behemoth may be cooking up something else for the oceans.

Reports have surfaced that Google is planning an underwater counterpart to its popular Google Earth maps: Google Ocean. The company is keeping mum for the moment, but a global 3-D database of seafloor terrain could be a boon to amateur oceanographers and scientists alike.

Oceans may cover 71 percent of the world's surface, but very little is known about the seafloor. Most people think it's flat and sandy like the beach, but in fact the ocean is home to diverse geographic features from volcanoes to canyons to enormous seamounts. I think an accessible database like Google Ocean could really help people understand why something like bottom trawling is so devastating.

[Photo is a screenshot of a bathymetry map, which shows estimated depth of the seafloor. Image credit: David Sandwell and Walter Smith/Scripps Institute of Oceanography]

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