California State University, Long Beach Marine Biology Professor Chris Lowe was among a team of experts who consulted on Ocean in Google Earth, a feature of the latest version of Google Earth.
Lowe, a nationally renowned expert on sharks, was contacted in 2008 to help with the project by a team of scientists and ocean advocates led by oceanographer and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Sylvia Earle. Google Earth 5.0, which was unveiled February 2, delves into the ocean for the first time, enabling users to explore 3D underwater terrain, learn about marine life from science experts like Lowe, locate shipwrecks, discover the impact people are having on marine life and much more.
Lowe has a half dozen entries featured on Ocean in Google Earth. Visitors throughout the world can travel to Kaneohe Bay, Oahu and read information about his research on scalloped hammerhead sharks. Near Honolulu they can learn about tiger sharks’ appetite for nearly anything – including cans of Spam. They can also visit the French Frigate Shoals to discover that the masked booby uses the island as a nesting habitat. Each of the entries includes a link to CSULB’s Shark Lab Web site, making it a great resource for promoting the lab as well as Lowe’s research with students.
“This is a good way to outlet some of the research we have done and it’s a great tool for teaching,” Lowe said. “I can overlay my fish and shark tracks on the Google Ocean maps and have students do a ‘fly through’ point-of-view so that they are getting a feeling as to what the animal is exposed to. Google ocean will provide the public with a great interactive tool for exploring the ocean and learning about marine life and hopefully this will instill an appreciation for the ocean. It’s easier for people to get excited about protecting something if they know what it’s about.”