Video: Google Earth dives into the sea

The <i>CBS Evening News</i> examines Google Earth 5.0 and its new underwater capabilities. It's not quite swimming with the fishes, but it will let you see where they live.

CBS Interactive staff Special to CNET News
2 min read

Google Earth is adding an ocean feature, allowing people to dive into the deep blue right from their desktop, CBS News Correspondent Daniel Sieberg reports.

John Hanke, director of Google Earth and Maps, said, "Vast parts of it are largely unexplored and we don't really know what's down there."

While the visibility in the water has been cleaned up, everything you see is based on actual data. It's not quite swimming with the fishes, but it will let you see where they live.

Hanke showed Sieberg some impressive images that can be found with the new feature. "This is really an undersea canyon that is quite dramatic," Hanke said. "It's imilar in scale to the Grand Canyon."

You can also click on icons to see photos and sometimes video of endangered species, like the Goliath Grouper, or even an odd-looking type of shrimp off the coast of Spain.

There's even a fish GPS -- you can follow creatures that have been tagged, from above the water or below it.

A worldwide network of scientists will be constantly adding video, photos, and underwater topography.

"Just as Google Earth has connected people to far off places and made them real, this is going to connect people to the ocean, and make it a much more real and accessible place," said Marine Biologist Stephanie Wear, from the Nature Conservancy.

The good news is you don't need to be a computer whiz or a marine biologist.

Once you download Google Earth, it's just a matter of double-clicking on the ocean to get more detail. Then scroll your mouse over different icons to see what lies beneath, or on the surface.

Hanke said the possibilities are vast, with the ability to see things like "the best surf spots in the world, with photographs of the waves, the best kite surfing spots, the best wind surfing spots."

For tourists, students, and landlubbers alike, it's a unique underwater adventure.

And, it's one that doesn't mean getting all wet.

• Click here for more stories, and images, on Google Earth 5.0.