Ocean Sports in Google Earth
Google Earth has made a large impact in the expansion of ocean sports around the world. Ocean sports have been around for quite some time, and have increased in worldwide popularity throughout the last 50 years. Sports enthusiasts used to join clubs, read magazines, or hear from friends to find the best surf spots in their area, but it was a slow process and users were restricted in the places they could visit. The improvements in technology, and the ability to fly, drive, or boat anywhere in the world has expanded much more rapidly than the information available for the various spots people may want to visit.
Google Earth has helped solve that problem. While the internet is an option, Google Earth is an organized database for ocean sports information. With the click of a button, users are able to go directly to South Africa and find the best surf spots on the coast with detailed information about the break, surface, and level of difficulty. Not only can one find helpful information, but also one can plan routes in a simple and quick way. Users cannot go on the internet and search “plan sailing route from Florida to France” and be shown the perfect route for them. But, with Google Earth, that is possible. All one must do is locate the longitude and latitude that he wants to follow, the places he wants to stop (one can look at others’ experiences to see popular stopping spots or sights), and the destination he wants to end his trip.
Users can use Google Earth for virtually anything involving ocean sports including fishing, sailing, surfing, scuba diving, , kite surfing, and paddle surfing. The program can be used in various ways with these sports including: 1) to map out and follow routes for all types of ocean sporting events, 2) to find new places to explore through an active user community, where users can share their own experiences, in order to help others find popular sites or routes that best fit their needs, 3) for one’s personal benefits, like planning a vacation around the world.
However, while Google Earth can be used for many things pertaining to the ocean, the most abundant applications for Ocean Sports to this day have been the WannaAtlas sites. The Ocean Sports layer focuses on the three main sports: surfing (Wannasurf.com), scuba diving (Wannadive.net), and kite surfing (Wannakitesurf.com)(Ocean Sports, 2009). In the surf spots layer, users are able to click on the wave icon of one of the most famous surf spots, Teahupoo, and the program zooms the user straight into the beach, filling the screen with details of the break. The most helpful thing about the layer is the combination of information pertaining to the direction, the water surface, and the level of difficulty of the break, along with a corresponding picture (Wannasurf.com, 2009).
However, if that is not enough, users can even click on a geotag link to the WannaSurf.com website and read about past experiences, reviews, and comments for the location they selected. The dive spots and kite surf spots have the same features and information that apply to each sport. These layers are extremely helpful for sports enthusiasts when they are trying to find the perfect spot for their vacation or a day off from work. All the information they need is compiled into one user-friendly database and can be accessed in less than ten seconds. While there are many other KMLs that have been created for use in ocean sports, they are nowhere near as detailed, organized, or user- friendly as the Ocean Sports layers.
The development of Google Earth, along with other virtual globes, has been one of the biggest influences in the development of a global community for ocean sports enthusiasts. Users are able to search for almost any ocean sport imaginable and find detailed information and experiences about the best locations to go to or the best routes to take. While some sports, like paddle surfing, have not yet reached as high of popularity as sports like surfing or diving, they lack the details and KMLs that are available today for other sports. However, as Google Earth continues to expand its program and capabilities, and these sports increase in popularity, the layers and KMLs will far surpass what is available today. As technology progresses and more people are encouraged to engage in these ocean sports, the influence Google Earth will have in the ocean sports enthusiasts’ life will continue to increase and become one of the most helpful tools for users to navigate and interact with the sea.
Check out a sweet surf video from Teahupoo, Indonesia by clicking this link: Big Wave Surfing in Teahupoo
-Mary Brian Miller
Ocean Sports. (2009). Ocean Sports [layer in Google Earth 5.0 software]. Available from earth.google.com.
Perth Scuba Diving- World Guide to Perth (2010, January 12). Perth Scuba Diving and Coral Reefs (Perth, Western Australia – WA, Australia AU). Perth, Australia World Guides. Retrieved from http://www.perth.world-guides.com/perth_scuba_diving .html.
Redbullusa (Producer). (2007, November 9) Big Wave Surfing in Teahupoo 11/1/07- Part 2 of 2 [video]. Retrieved from http:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7FCUaOxhA0.
Wallpapers Desktop DiQ (2003-2010). Wave Surfing at Pipeline, Hawaii. Free Wallpapers for you Desktop. Retrieved from http://wallpapers.org/54__Wave_Surfing_At_Pipeline,_Hawaii.htm
WannaSurf (www.wannasurf.com). (2009). Surf Spots [layer in Google Earth 5.0 software]. Available from earth.google.com.