Don’t have the time to take a real vacation? Take a virtual one instead with Google Ocean Street View, which now allows users to explore the oceans that cover 70 percent of Earth’s surface, all without getting wet or even putting on a bathing suit. And while a trip to the Great Barrier Reef might set you back thousands of dollars, this latest Google feature lets you do it all for free, though you may have to make the trip after seeing some of the stunning images the search engine has collected.
The Ocean Street View is a joint collaboration among the Catlin Seaview Survey, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Chagos Conservation Trust, who have given Google some truly spectacular pictures to work with. The ultimate purpose of the initiative is to raise awareness and interest about the vast, blue unknown. To this day, 95 percent of the world’s oceans remain unexplored, but with this new version of Street View, the average Googler is given the opportunity to explore at least a small fraction of the waters on their own.
A spokesperson for the company told TechCrunch, “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. Google is committed to exploring and preserving the ocean by creating new technologies to help document the state of the ocean today and how it changes in years to come.”
More than 40 new Street View locations (all underwater!) have been added with this latest update, making it the biggest series of additions since Google first introduced the feature in 2012. Humpback whales, parrot fish of Bali, and American Samoan beaches have all been captured for you to explore at your leisure, from the comfort of your own home.
So whether you’re scoping out your next vacation spot or just taking a mini-vacation from your desk, Google’s Ocean Street Views is probably the coolest way to do it.