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Animal trackers collaborate on new Google Earth for oceans
Date:2/2/2009

Pacific Grove, CA A consortium of researchers led by Stanford University Professor Barbara Block collaborated with Google for more than a year, providing animal tracking data for the new Google Earth release, which features a three-dimensional, interactive ocean. In the animal tracking layer, called GTOPP (Global Tagging of Pelagic Predators), users can explore the large-scale migrations of tunas, sharks, whales, seals, sea turtles and seabirds seeing where they go through time, and even swimming along with them in special "fly-through" animations, which provide an "animal's eye view" of the open ocean seascape.

The collaboration between GTOPP and Google has been a long-term goal for Block and her colleagues.

"Google Earth provides a powerful, intuitive interface for exploring the kinds of data these animals produce from electronic tags "says Block. "This allows users from scientists to school kids to quickly view and interact with animal tracks. And ultimately, they'll be able to use this interface to access related data such as oceanographic data or diving data from that same location at the same time. Its an important evolution in being able to "see" the largest portion of our planet."

The ability to simultaneously tag and track large numbers of open ocean animals, representing a variety of different species, has been pioneered over more than a decade by Block and her colleagues Drs. Daniel Costa from UC Santa Cruz, Stephen Bograd from NOAA and Randy Kochevar, also of Stanford University. In a program called, "Tagging of Pacific Predators" (TOPP), which is one of the field programs of the global Census of Marine Life, these four principal investigators led a team of over 100 scientists from seven different countries. In the first eight years of the program they tagged over 4,000 individual animals, representing 23 different species, and collected over 1,000,000 days of data. Block also leads a program in the Atlantic Ocea
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Contact: Randy Kochevar
kochevar@stanford.edu
831-236-0728
Census of Marine Life
Source:Eurekalert

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