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    Visualizing the Census of Marine Life
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The Census of Marine Life was a global network of researchers in more than 80 nations engaged in a 10-year scientific initiative to assess and explain the diversity, distribution, and abundance of life in the oceans.  The world's first comprehensive census of the past, present, and future of life in the oceans was released in October 2010.


Ocean in Google Earth Notes & Tips

Census of Marine Life Layer is incorporated in Google Earth v 5 (Ocean in Google Earth)

How do I find Census of Marine Life Layer?

  1. Expand [Layers] panel at the left side of the Google Earth window.
  2. Expand "Oceans" folder.
  3. Check on "Census of Marine Life."
    Layers panel in GE5
  4. The Census placemarks (four droplets) will appear across the globe. Please note that you need to zoom in a bit to see the placemarks come out.
  5. Click on a placemark marker and you will see a popup come out.

 Is there any way to find a particular placemark? It is hard to locate it.

Our original layer structure contained sub folders and individual placemarks were grouped into them. Unfortunately, Google decided to take the structure away. Yes, it's hard to find any particular placemark. We are working on ways to improve this.

The ocean topology does not look nice. The resolution is poor. Is this what Google Earth meant to provide us?

Please make sure to set "Terrain Quality" to "Higher" and "Elevation Exaggeration" higher, if necessary. By default Google Earth does not download fine resolution bathymetry data to save time. To set "Terrain Quality" see the table below.

Also note the resolution varies place to place. For example, waters around Hawaii got very high resolution but the ridges in the middle of the ocean got much poorer resolution.

Terrain Quality
Windows Terrain Quality Win

  1. Go to [Tools]-[Options].
  2. Switch to [3D View].
  3. Slide the bar in "Terrain Quality" to the far right ("Higher")
  4. If necessary, set "Elevation Exaggeration" to higher value (e.g. 3).
Terrain Quality Mac
  1. Go to [Google Earth]-[Preferences].
  2. Switch to [3D View].
  3. Slide the bar in "Terrain Quality" to the far right ("Higher")
  4. If necessary, set "Elevation Exaggeration" to higher value (e.g. 3).


How can I put a placemark below the sea surface?

Google Earth KML now accepts a negative z-value (altitude). Simply add a negative altitude in meters to <coordinates> tag.


The format of <coordinates> tag is:


where longitude and latitude are expressed in decimal degrees and altitude in meters.

Images clamped to sea floor

One of the interesting features in Ocean in Google Earth, which can potentially have a lot of applications in visualizing Census data, is that images  can be placed on the sea floor so that it's clamped to the floor. Check out the image below.

clamped to sea floor

Images could be vegetation maps, species distributions, model outputs, or even real photos taken by deep sea expeditions.

 The key to this is to set the mode of altitude to "Clamped to sea floor."
Clamped to sea floor setting

Notes on Google Maps and Google Earth Plugin

3D oceans are not available yet in Google Maps or Google Earth Plugin. A person related to Google posted a note in a Google-related discussion forum saying that incorporating 3D oceans into Google Earth Plugin is the highest priority. So it will be added sooner than later.

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