Google Street View hits bottom

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There may be no streets there, yet, but that hasn’t stopped Google from launching Street View Oceans. Introduced on their 14th birthday, the search giant has embedded 15,000 panoramic marine vistas into their popular maps feature, allowing viewers to browse the seas without getting their feet wet. They hope to at least triple that photo count by the end of next year.

Google partnered with the Catlin Seaview Survey to develop the new panoramic tech needed for the project. The camera they made, called the SVII, can capture thousands of high-definition, 360-degree images with geolocation information as divers sail through the deep. Underwater locales currently on offer include the Great Barrier Reef, the Apo Islands in the Philippines, and Molokini Crater off Hawaii.

Google’s submerged Street View cameras captured some unusual and surprising moments, just like their landlocked counterparts. Check out this manta ray in mid-flight:

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or this David Doubilet inspired sunset:

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Google and their partner hopes bringing these images to the surface will engage and inspire the land-loving public.

“The biggest problem with the ocean is that it’s out of sight and out of mind for most of us–99 percent of people have never gone for a dive and never will,” said project director Richard Vevers to BoingBoing.

With 70 percent of the Earth covered by water, Google has a lot more pictures to take. But they’re diving right in with photo shoots planned through 2013 for sites off Bermuda, the Caribbean, and the Indian Ocean.

Maps via Street View Oceans