For most people, a visit to the Galapagos Islands is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But if you can't manage the cost, Google has lowered the bar to taking a first-person Galapagos tour with some help from Street View (opens in Google Maps).
On the 178th anniversary of Charles Darwin's historic visit to the Galapagos Islands, Google, the Charles Darwin Foundation, and the Galapagos National Park directorate have launched a 360-degree tour of the islands with images shot during a May trek there.
In addition to a tour of islands such as San Cristobal and Floreana Island above the water line that include such sights as the Galapaguera Cerro Colorado, giant tortoises, and blue-footed boobies, Street View dives into the surrounding ocean thanks to images provided by Catlin Seaview Survey. You can get up close and personal with rare species such as the Galapagos Sea Lions.
If you're curious about how Google made the Galapagos images, Google's got some DVD-extra style "behind the scenes" details for you to explore.
Google is also using the imagery to help scientists and conservationists with a Web app called "Darwin for a Day" that crowd-sources naturalist documentation. When you see a plant or animal shown in the Street View images you'd like to label, you can identify and catalog it.
Labels can be as simple as "tree" or "bird," or much more detailed. The observations of the crowd are then sent on to the iNaturalist community and the Charles Darwin Foundation.
Internet jokers being what they are, it's hard not to imagine that the Foundation will be inundated with an overabundance of "booby" tags.