Reef View: Google Gives Us Stunning Underwater Shots of Great Coral Reefs

Most of us have looked up our own addresses using Google Street View. But have you ever wished you could virtually dive right into the ocean, lake or river near your home?

It may not be long until you can. Google has taken its Street View model, complete with directional arrows and swipe-controlled scaling, and plunged into the watery universe.

In a collaboration with a major scientific study of the ocean, Street View now includes panoramic views of six of the world’s living coral reefs. These images, shot using a special camera, allow us to zoom in and see schools of fish and sea turtles make their way over the sea floor off the coast of Australia’s Heron Island. Check out the shape and texture of this ancient volcanic rock near Apo Island in the Philippines.

Above the Molokini Crater near Maui you might be surprised to stumble upon some other snorklers.

Scooting along is amazingly fun and the photographic clarity is incredible. Take a cool swim with a manta ray and an underwater photographer off the Great Barrier Reef. It really does feel like you’re there—only you’re not (and the Google watermarks bring you back to reality ).


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Photos come courtesy of the Catlin Seaview Survey, an international study of the oceans. Researchers use a continual 360 degree panoramic camera to capture underwater images. In deeper trenches, they send the camera down on robots.

Scientists with the study say that some 95 percent of the ocean still hasn’t been seen by the human eye. Short of traveling to all these spots ourselves, this may be our best chance to bring that number down.

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Kate Rix is an Oakland-based freelance writer. See more of her work at katerixwriter.com.


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