The new underwater panoramic views not only reveal the beauty beneath the sea but also call attention to the damage being done to Earth's oceans by climate change, pollution and overfishing.
Lance WhitneyContributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
The new images are a change of pace for Google, which usually keeps its Street View tours above the water. But the virtual tours are more than just a guide to marvel at the wonders under the sea. Posted in time for World Oceans Day on June 8, the images are also a way to focus on the harm being done to our oceans and the attempts to preserve the undersea world.
"Home to the majority of life on Earth, the ocean acts as its life support system, controlling everything from our weather and rainfall to the oxygen we breathe," Google said in its blog. "Yet despite the ocean's vital importance, the ocean is changing at a rapid rate due to climate change, pollution, and overfishing, making it one of the most serious environmental issues we face today."
"Mapping the ocean is key to preserving it, Google said. "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."
As one example cited, the Great Barrier Reef faces such threats as an increase in storms and rising water temperatures, causing the reefs to bleach white. The imagery collected and displayed by Google can track the ongoing color changes to the reefs.
Ultimately, Google plans to publish more Street View images of the ocean's depths as a way for people to explore it and understand the changes that the undersea world is undergoing and will undergo over the coming years.