National Marine Sanctuaries Media Library (and other web portals)

February 12, 2009

Another addition to the list of online sites distributing underwater media: NOAA has recently released the National Marine Sanctuaries Media Library.


In a news release on the site, they write that “The media library is part of a continuing NOAA effort to enhance public awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the marine environment. It was created to provide a resource for numerous audiences, including students, educators, publishers, conservation organizations and individuals looking for compelling marine-related images.” As is common in many of these online underwater photo and video distribution hubs (see also, The Ocean Channel, EarthOCEAN, etc.) the spread of images is itself  framed as a potential mobilizer of environmental action. If we can just see the beauty under the surface, we will be compelled to stop the destruction.

These sites are fairly distinct from underwater media fan sites such as ScubaTube and AquaBank. These sites feature user generated content more prominently, forground the adventure of descending beneath the water, and tend to have images of female bikini-clad divers rather than environmentalist rhetoric on the periphery.


The AquaBank

May 11, 2008

The Aquabank (established in 2007?) is an underwater video sharing website. Users upload their underwater videos and have access to over 20,000 underwater videos already on the site. There are adult underwater videos, celebrity videos, commercials, and a variety of other types of underwater media. Everyday there is a new stream of underwater video on AquabankTV.

Shipwreck Central

May 2, 2008

Shipwreck Central is a website and online video channel for shipwreck enthusiasts (also the home of the TV documentary The Sea Hunters). The site releases the latest shipwreck news, has a “live dive blog,” and a  user contributed map of shipwrecks around the world (which also serves as an interface to viewing underwater video clips).

The site also pitches itself as an base for the shipwreck enthusiast community. There is an active message board with everything from people looking for research help to news about recently found shipwrecks, and there are educational modules for teachers.

Overall, the most compelling part of the site is the underwater video of the shipwrecks.  Like the narrative of the treasure hunt these videos follow, the viewer is guided down into the depths to see sites that rarely surface.  Some of these videos focus on the divers, who emphasize the beauty of the ships and the difficulties in getting to them, or the initial accident – many of the times this is part of an underwater archaeological expedition, intended to help reconstruct history. Other videos simply showcase the underwater wrecks themselves.