Another use for Google Earth from CORAL

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Another use for Google Earth from CORAL

Post by HSCmember on Thu Feb 11, 2010 12:18 am

Internet Fish Poachers: Google Masterminds

Not yet visible on Google Earth: the Holacanthus clarionensis pair
in the aquarium of Pieter van Suijlekom. Photo: D. Knop

Koi fanciers in the British Isles are bracing for the return of spring and an anticipated re-emergence of fish snatchers who last year pilfered a respectable fortune in prize ornamental carp from outdoor ponds. Investigators are almost certain the only way the thieves could have located the koi, in ponds well hidden from casual passersby, was by use of Google Earth, giving spy-satellite capabilities to a new class of bio-terrorists.


Google Earth, the astonishing Internet service that displays the entire planet in satellite photos, often with breathtaking precision and accuracy of detail, is apparently being misused increasingly by fish thieves for nefarious purposes. The county of East Yorkshire in northern England was the scene of a series of thefts of Koi, in which many fishes, each with an individual value of several hundred British pounds, were stolen last summer.

The ponds were not visible from the outside of the properties—only the owners knew of their existence. But the ponds are readily visible on higher magnification photos on Google Earth. Police said these photos may have been the only way for the thieves to discover the existence of the discretely hidden ponds.

A Google spokesman denied any culpability, arguing that technology can never be held responsible for a crime committed with its assistance. Hopefully the resolution of the photos on Google Earth will not be increased to such a degree that valuable angelfishes in marine aquaria can also be detected…...


Daniel Knop

Excerpt from the forthcoming issue of CORAL, Reef News, March/April 2010.
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