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Google Earth, Underwater

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Google took two dives today, plunging into the red along with other tech stocks, and splashing into the great blue deep with a new 3-D mapping tool for the ocean floor. Though buzz about this new "layer" of Google Earth began in April, it debuted today at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Barcelona. Users can explore some of the planet's 4,500 marine protected areas and share video, photographs, and stories about each location--activities thatGreatbarrierreef conservationists and oceanographers who developed the project with Google teams hope will boost awareness of threatened ocean habitats and species.

Given the dire report on endangered species that emerged from the IUCN conference earlier this week, this kind of tool can come none too soon: Ocean dwellers like the squaretail coral grouper--one of 44,838 species now listed on the IUCN Red List--appear to be on a fast track to extinction. Travel blogger Susan Derby highlights three Red List species today on latimes.com--with tips for what you can do to support recovery efforts.

Read more about Google, technology, and vulnerable habitats:
Google Goes Big for Geothermal
EPA Lets Electronic Waste Flow "Virtually Unrestricted"
Wired: Ocean Dead Zones May Be Worse Than Thought
Good News for the Scarlet Macaw
Underwater Logging in Ghana
VIDEO: Penguins on the Peninsula
Coral Reefs Discovered Deep in the Atlantic

Share your thoughts: Have you tried the new ocean layer of Google Earth? Do you think it can make people care more about marine habitats?