September 26, 2012

By Mera McGrew

Today, Google Street View splashes into the world’s ocean allowing people to dive in and explore coral reefs from behind their computer screens, tablets and smartphones. In the same way you have long been able to virtually walk around a busy New York City block using Street View, you can now also splash underwater and “swim” through a coral reef off the coast of Australia.

“With Street View in Google Maps we have gone to seven continents, including Antarctica where you can go into Scott’s Hut, you can go down the Amazon River and to the Arctic,” the manager of Google Ocean, Jenifer Foulkes, told Mission Blue.  “And now we are taking you underwater to 6 locations in the world with Caitlin Seaview Survey.”

The Catlin Seaview Survey is a partnership between the global insurance company Catlin Group Limited and the nonprofit Underwater Earth. Thousands of 360-degree panoramic images were collected by the Catlin Seaview Survey and stitched together by Google Maps to take Street View underwater.

To capture these photos the Catlin Seaview Survey created a revolutionary new camera system —the SVII. There are currently only two SVII camera systems in the world and one has been affectionately named “Sylvia” after Mission Blue founder and famed oceanographer, Dr. Sylvia Earle.

Whether you’re a marine biologist, a recreational diver or an individual that has never seen the ocean, you can now virtually dive beneath the waves and “swim” through coral reefs around the world. So, dive in! Swim by sea turtles, encounter manta rays and see colorful schools of fish.

Join Mission Blue at the official Google launch in a live Google+ hangout tomorrow 10:30 PST. Check back with Mission Blue for updates and join the hangout by going to the Catlin Seaview Survey Google + Page.

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