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Google Street View comes to the Galapagos

To celebrate the anniversary of naturalist Charles Darwin arriving on the Galapagos Islands, Google has added the famous ecosystem to Street View.

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Michelle Starr

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1 of 6 Catlin Seaview Survey

To celebrate the anniversary of naturalist Charles Darwin arriving on the Galapagos Islands, Google has added the famous ecosystem to Street View.

Some of Darwin's most famous work comes from the time he spent in the Galapagos Islands, an archipelago off the Ecuadorian coast. Darwin finches and Darwin island are both named after the prolific scientist, and the long-lived Galapagos tortoise inspired some of his work in his theory of evolution.

He landed there for the first time on 15 September 1835, and to celebrate the 178th anniversary of that momentous occasion, Google has added imagery of the island and its many animal inhabitants to Google Street View.

Over 10 days, the Google Street View team trekked across the volcanic islands, capturing its rich and diverse wildlife. Additional underwater scenes were captured by Catlin Seaview Survey, an Australia-based research team that provides extensive underwater surveys with its SVII underwater camera.

Together, the teams managed to spot Galapagos tortoises and their tiny babies, frolicking sea lions, blue-footed boobies and sunbathing marine iguanas.

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According to Google, though, this won't just give armchair tourists a chance to experience the islands; it will also help researchers and scientists study the Galapagos ecosystem. "One way in which the Charles Darwin Foundation plans to use the Street View imagery for science is by allowing the public to help identify plants and animals observed when navigating through the imagery," Google said. The Charles Darwin Foundation, based on the islands, together with citizen scientist community iNaturalist have released an app to do just that: Darwin for a Day. Users can explore the islands and make observations about the plants and animals they find to share them with the two research bodies.

Click through the gallery below to see the team at work in the islands. You can also pay a virtual visit to the Galapagos Islands via Google Street View here.

Christophe Bailhache of Catlin Seaview Survey dives with the sea lions at Champion Island.

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2 of 6 Google

The Charles Darwin Foundation's Daniel Orellana climbs out of a lava tunnel on Isabela Island.

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3 of 6 Google

Googler Karin Tuxen-Bettman meets a giant Galapagos tortoise at the Galapaguera tortoise breeding centre, where biologists work to restore the tortoises' once-great numbers.

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4 of 6 Catlin Seaview Survey

Christophe Bailhache meets a Spotted Eagle Ray during a shark and ray research dive.

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A sulphur volcano on Isabela Island.

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6 of 6 Google

Sea lions sunning themselves in a rocky inlet. See if you can spot them all!

Click here for more behind-the-scenes photos.

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