Pedro Valdeolmillos was not happy when he crashed his boat into a rock off the coast of Ibiza, despite taking every precaution. He was so not happy, he decided in 2009 to build an information-rich platform for the ocean, where sailors, surfers, kayakers, divers and casual beachgoers could go for beta beyond what’s found in traditional marine maps.
BlooSee, launched to the public early this year, is a sort of Google Maps for water people: Registered users can log in via web browser or smartphone and scroll through maps, looking for surf spots, sailing information, hazards in the water, photos, videos, and other information on “infopoint” markers. All information is user-submitted and user-edited, in the style of everytrail.com or mountainproject.com. BlooSee adds a media-rich layer to Google Maps, combining the crowdsourced information with nautical charts from NOAA, the Brazilian Hydrographic Office, the New Zealand Hydrographic Office, and more soon to come.
“We want to be the Wikipedia for the ocean, all based around mapping,” BlooSee Community Manager Tommy Chipman says. “The goal is to be the go-to for the ocean — we’re bringing together all these fragmented resources into one platform.”
BlooSee maps can be overlaid with NOAA nautical charts and wind forecasts for the next 18 hours, and map settings can be adjusted to show a variety of infopoints: boating, diving, surfing and fishing spots, dangers in the water like reefs, services on the coast (hotels, surf shops, restaurants, hotels, scenic viewpoints) and more. BlooSee will introduce a new tracking feature this month for kayakers and SUPers to track and organize their trips from a GPS unit and share on the site and over social platforms. Talks have begun with stormsurf.com to add better swell and ocean conditions to the platform, and BlooSee is working to add in tide and weather info to enable users to see weeklong forecasts for any destination.
BlooSee has more than 20,000 users so far and is growing. Each user gets a Facebook-like profile that shows how many infopoints, photos, and videos they’ve contributed, as well as a timeline that shows what they’ve been up to on the site. The more info users contribute, the richer the map data will be. With user contributions and their own work entering databases, BlooSee hopes to grow data from 20,000 infopoints to hundreds of thousands in the next six to 10 months.
BlooSee also has partnered with a group of nonprofits who work in ocean recreation and conservation, including the Surfrider Foundation and the Save the Waves Coalition. The site is a privately funded startup, but will add “premium” features in the future, including offline capabilities for app users who plan to travel out of cell phone range, and premium partnerships with providers like portbooker.com.
Environmental coverage made possible in part by support from Patagonia. For information on Patagonia and its environmental efforts, visit www.patagonia.com.