Google Maps is taking a deep dive. Underwater, that is. The mapping giant, which has scoured the earth with its Google cars and cameras for its Street View tool, now can take users into the ocean.
Note: Please get out of your car before you do this. Actually, diving equipment is not required. You can enjoy the breathtaking beauty of some of the most iconic underwater sites around the world from the convenience of your computer screen.
Here's how it works: Google partnered with the Catlin Seaview Survey, which actually handled the underwater photography. So far, as the Internet company notes on the video description, "This ocean collection includes six of the world's most incredible underwater spots, including coral reefs (and their inhabitants) in Australia, the Philippines and Hawaii."
The panoramic views can be found on the Street View feature of Google Maps and at the Street View Gallery at maps.google.com/ocean.
The organization that collected the images explains on its website, "For the public at large, the Catlin Seaview Survey will bring unprecedented accessibility to our oceans through 'virtual diving'. Just as you might navigate on dry land with Google's Street View on your desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone, now you can drop a pin into the ocean, dive in and explore hundreds of km of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea."
The Catlin Seaview Survey used a special underwater camera called the SVII, which captured a sea turtle at Australia's Great Barrier Reef on Heron Island. It shows snorkelers at the coral reef at Maui's Molokini crater. And it follows schools of fish at the Apo Island, a volcanic island and marine reserve in the Philippines, where you can see an ancient boulder coral.
Just don't expect exact directions. Many of the underwater sites admit: "Address is approximate."
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