Protect the Earth

Driving awareness of environmental issues

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The Mission Blue movement

In 2009, Google Earth expanded its scope to include 3D maps of the world’s oceans, including videos, photos and narrative from the world’s leading scientists and media sources to bring them to life. More than 100 partners then began to fill in the blue parts of the planet further, adding thousands of placemarks in more than 20 ocean layers.

Countless new posts are the result of leading oceanographer Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue movement, a multi-year, global partnership initiative aimed at restoring health and productivity to the ocean by inspiring people to care and act, reducing the impact of fishing and promoting the creation of marine protected areas.

However, the ocean is constantly changing and there are endless underwater spaces still to be explored, so Sylvia Earle isn’t resting and neither is Mission Blue. To kick off 2011, Mission Blue embarked on an expedition to the Gulf of Mexico to take a deep look at how the region is recovering from the five million gallons of oil spilled there last year. The team shared updates and media from the voyage, which the public could track in Google Earth.

Google Earth enabled people all over the world to follow Sylvia Earle and the Mission Blue team to Easter Island in early 2011.

“With knowing comes caring, and with caring there’s hope.” - Sylvia Earle

Then Mission Blue launched an expedition to the remote Salas y Gomez near Easter Island off the coast of Chile, with the aim of discovering what lies beneath these largely unexplored waters. The science team shared updates via Google Earth, including photographs, videos and links to the National Geographic News Watch blog. At the same time, new imagery for the island was published, so that now anyone can visit Salas y Gomez virtually.

One of the most powerful things about Google Earth is that it allows everyone to see and experience the fullness of the planet, from revisiting places they know well to venturing out to formerly unknown mountain peaks, desert vistas, and increasingly, the earth’s beating blue heart.

Join Sylvia Earle on a tour of the "Explore the Ocean" layer in Google Earth.