Google Maps are celebrating World Oceans Day with oceanic ‘Street Views’. For the last four years, Google Earth Outreach - a Google programme to support environmental NGOs visualise stories - has worked with Underwater Earth, XL Catlin Seaview Survey, NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, and the Chagos Conservation Trust to digitally map the oceans. This observation follows a global effort to raise awareness of challenges faced by the ocean and its inhabitants.
So dive in and virtually swim through a collection of online, underwater, interactive maps through the familiar Street View application. You can explore 40 locations worldwide, including the Galapagos Islands, the Maldives, and the Great Barrier Reef. Google takes you underwater to see dying coral reefs.
Go to Google Views, explore a section of Google Maps, then click through each of the underwater experiences. Once you select an experience, you can get a 360° view of the site. Each location also includes a description.
Covering more than 70% of Earth’s surface, the oceans remain one of the most uncharted and undiscovered ecosystems on the planet. Oceans control our weather, rainfall, and the oxygen we breathe. Yet despite the oceans' vital importance, oceanic ecosystems are being damaged at a rapid rate due to climate change, pollution, and overfishing. Our oceans are home to an incredible diversity of wildlife and provide us with important medicines. “We map the ocean so we can better understand it, and we can protect it,” the video’s narration reads.
"Mapping the ocean is key to preserving it," write Jenifer Austin and Brian Sullivan of the Google Ocean Program. "Each image in Google Maps is a GPS-located digital record of these underwater and coastal environments, which can be used as a baseline to monitor change over time. This comprehensive record of coral reefs showcases the beauty of these ecosystems and highlights the threats they face." Google's Street View cameras have captured plenty of underwater creatures alongside the stunning backdrops: you can click around to view sea turtles, humpback whales, great white sharks and the giant sunfish. You rarely get a glimpse of such exotic wildlife on the roads and avenues that make up the standard part of the Street View service. As on land, you can move around underwater in some locations, following the arrows to swim along.