The new Oceans
feature is aimed at documenting the changing underwater ecosystems in six regions, giving users an up-close look at coral reefs in Australia, the Philippines and Hawaii and the deep sea creatures that live there.
The Google Blog
site says the new feature will let you swim through a school of fish, chase a manta ray and experience the spectacular beauty of a coral reef at sunset or join a group of snorkelers as they explore Hawaii's Hanauma Bay.
The images were put together by Google's partner, The Catlin Seaview Survey
Project director Richard Vevers tells BoingBoing
, "The biggest problem with the ocean is that it's out of sight and out of mind for most of us. 99% of people have never gone for a dive and never will. One of the biggest issues around conservation is engaging people with the ocean, and this is a powerful way to accomplish that. It is a scientific project to create a baseline for observing how the oceans are changing, but it also creates awareness of why that matters."
This is only the beginning though. The survey on the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea will continue until December visiting 20 different coral reefs, including some that have "never previously been seen or studied before.” It will continue in different locations including Hawaii, the Philippines and Bermuda through 2013.