This weekend Google released new imagery of the ocean floor in Google Earth. It has higher resolution, and more accurate, representations of the underlying terrain. The ocean floor is colored to reflect the terrain features of the
sub-sea surface. The new rendering is a bit higher resolution (much
higher in places) and is presumably more accurate than the previous
version. According to the copyright messages the new ocean floor is
coming from “SIO, NOAA, US Navy, NGA, GEBCO“. These
entities are dedicated to getting the best ocean floor surface data
they can. You don’t have to do anything special to see the new ocean
floor, just open up Google Earth (it’s not visible in Google Maps yet).
Unfortunately, the new ocean floor in Google Earth is NOT 3D – yet.
This could be the first part of the release of new data for the rumored
Unfortunately, Google has ruined some of their own previous data by actually covering up some imagery of remote islands and atolls with the new ocean floor imagery. Not only that, but their selection process has covered satellite/aerial imagery of shallow waters like those in the Bahamas and around island chains. This is particularly bad news for boats, divers, fisherman, and others who value being able to see the waters around important places around the world. For boaters, we can use the visual imagery to see changes in water color which help identify shallow areas, locations of reefs and undersea obstructions, and the location of boats at anchor (indicating good anchorage locations). I’m hoping Google will listen to the feedback and re-instate missing island imagery and more waters with visual imagery instead of bathymetry.