Celebrate Marine Day by exploring the shinkai

Sunday, July 17, 2011 at 6:00 PM


The ocean covers approximately 70 percent of the Earth’s surface and yet remains one of the most mysterious places on the planet. In Japan, bodies of water with depths over 200m (656 feet) are referred to as shinkai, or deep sea. These dark regions of the ocean do not receive light and water pressure is up to 100x higher than at the surface, making the shinkai inaccessible to most exploration.

In honor of Marine Day in Japan, we collaborated with JAMSTEC (Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology) and the manned Shinkai 6500 submarine to share this hidden world through Google Earth. Dive beneath the surface to explore the shinkai, as well as shipwrecks, research discoveries, surf spots and more.

The Shinkai 6500 is able to dive to depths of 6,500m (21,325 feet), a feat few other vessels can match. It is equipped with a variety of research devices such as search lights, cameras and robotic arms. A cockpit enables three pilots to withstand the extreme conditions and even includes a spyglass for visual exploration of the deepest parts of the ocean.

Shinkai 6500’s cockpit

Shinkai 6500’s mission is to bring the secrets of the deep sea to the surface for marine enthusiasts. It studies movement of the Earth’s interior, living organisms equipped to survive the most extreme conditions and the impact of hydrothermal activity on the environment.

In order to bring this research to life, we worked with JAMSTEC to create a Google Earth tour showcasing past Shinkai 6500 endeavors to the ocean floor. Join the crew by downloading the KML file (in English or Japanese) and opening in Google Earth.

The Shinkai 6500 tour highlights previous deep sea missions and marine life.

As the submarine descends, you will learn more about the vessel and the creatures it finds in the deepest parts of the ocean, including historical imagery from past ventures. Discover unique deep sea features and lifeforms - from rare translucent fish such as the Liparis to hydrothermal vents known as white smokers.

Learn more about life at the bottom of the sea as the Shinkai 6500 explores the Google Earth ocean.

We hope the Shinkai 6500 inspires you to continue to explore the deep sea and its hidden treasures. We recommend starting with the ocean seafloor tour or deep sea vents ridge 2000. You can find even more ocean tours in the Ocean Showcase on the Google Earth website.