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Friday, December 21, 2012

3 Ways to Explore Marine Life in Google Earth

Google Earth is a great tool for exploring many aspects of geography. One of the features of Google Earth that seems to be frequently overlooked is the ocean imagery. Using Google Earth tours can be a good way for students to learn about marine life and habitats. Here are three good resources that you can use for that purpose.

To get started take a look at a look at this list of ocean tours featured on the Google Earth showcase. Some of these tours will also work in the Google Earth browser plug-in. Learn about protected whale areas in the tour below.



The Encyclopedia of Life offers four Google Earth tours of interest to teachers and students. One that I particularly like is the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Tour. The tour of the Artic Tern migration patterns is featured in the video below.


EOL Migration Google Earth Tour Video - The Arctic Tern from Encyclopedia of Life on Vimeo.

The Encyclopedia of Life also hosts an interesting interactive quiz using Google Earth. The Encyclopedia of Life's Google Earth Species Quiz (opens KMZ) presents players with images of an animal and the animal's name scientific name. Players then have to pick the place that the animal is from. If the correct answer is chosen, the player is zoomed to the correct location on the map. 

NOAA offers dozens of Google Earth files and demos related to weather and marine life. You can find the list here.



Bonus: Not Google Earth, but quite cool.
Ocean Tracks is an Australian website on which students can view the tracks of marine animals in an online 3D environment. The "tracks" part of Ocean Tracks shows you where in the world tagged animals are swimming or have swum. Ocean Tracks uses the Unity browser plug-in to provide animations of the underwater views of tracked animals. You can see what bluefin tuna, swordfish, sharks, and many other fish see in 3D.