Google has aspirations to map the world, and as of this week, they're one step closer to their goal.
The company has released its underwater “Street View,” which enables users to view panoramic images of six of the world’s most stunning coral reefs, all from the comfort of their couches.
“Now, anyone can become the next virtual Jacques Cousteau and dive with sea turtles, fish and manta rays in Australia, the Philippines and Hawaii,” Brian McClendon, Vice President of Google Maps and Earth, wrote in a blog post announcing the program.
The project is a partnership between Google and Catlin Seaview Survey, a major scientific study of coral reefs. Survey members began photographing the Great Barrier Reef this month in a quest to document the world’s marine environments.
Internet surfers can pull up a panorama of a sea turtle swimming among schools of fish, a manta ray gliding toward the sun, or a gorgeous view of the Great Barrier Reef as the sun sets on the horizon.
To capture a single panorama of ocean life, Catlin technicians stitch together up to 50,000 images taken with underwater cameras. The company expects that scientists will be able to use these images to monitor ocean life, particularly the 25 percent of marine species that live in or near coral reefs.
Oceans cover 71 percent of the earth’s surface, but just 5 percent of the oceans have been explored, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.more