Google Ocean tool for sea turtle researchers launched

Google has announced a vast expansion of its popular Google Earth application to include seabed maps and underwater imagery. The launch event was held at the California Academy of Sciences and was headlined by Al Gore and oceanographer Sylvia Earle.

The Academy is also opening a new Science in Action exhibit featuring hawksbill sea turtle research. Hawksbill turtles in the eastern Pacific Ocean may be the world’s most endangered sea turtle population. Recent satellite tracking of the turtles combined with Google’s new ocean mapping power give scientists and conservationists some urgently needed tools.

Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, a research associate at California Academy of Sciences, commented: “The more we know about where these animals swim and why, the better chance we have of saving them. This will bring the ocean to millions of people in a completely new way.”

Nichols and his colleagues share all of their sea turtle tracks with the world on seaturtle.org. According to Dr. Michael Coyne, director of seaturtle.org, the new Google Ocean will add an important new dimension to tracking of all ocean wildlife, including sea turtles, whales, sharks, birds and seals. “Google Earth is a great way for researchers to visualise wildlife tracking data, and Google Ocean allows us to see how marine animals move in relation to their environment,” he stated.

Visitors to the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park can learn more about endangered hawksbill turtles from the Science in Action exhibit and then keep track of turtles online at home or school using seaturtle.org and the new Google Ocean.

“Google Ocean is revolutionary for our research, an amazing educational tool and it’s just plain cool. It’s the next best thing to being in the ocean itself,” added Nichols, who is spending the week researching sea turtles in Baja.

To see sea turtles and Google Ocean in action, visit: http://www.wildlifetracking.org/googleocean.shtml

For more information about the hawksbill sea turtle project, contact
Alexander Gaos, gaos@propeninsula.org