Google Street View Explores Galapagos Islands
May 24, 2013

Google Street View Adds Panorama Of Galapagos Islands

April Flowers for - Your Universe Online

The Galapagos Islands played a pivotal role in the development of Charles Darwin´s theory of natural selection because they are some of the most biologically unique ecosystems in the world, drawing the attention of explorers and scientists alike. Local conservation groups, scientists and the Ecuadorean Government are working to protect the Galapagos from the threats posed by invasive species, climate change, and other human impacts.

Now, a partnership between the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF), the Galapagos National Parks Directorate (GNPD) and Google Street is bringing panoramic images of the Galapagos Islands to Street View. TheNextWeb reports that the images aren´t available yet, but Google has given a glimpse of what we can expect when they are unveiled on Google Maps later this year with an image release of the Googlers, as their explorers are called, trekking the islands with backpack versions of the famous car-mounted 360-degree cameras.

“Our 10-day adventure in the Galapagos was full of hiking, boating and diving around the islands (in hot and humid conditions) to capture 360-degree images of the unique wildlife and geological features of the islands with the Trekker,” explains“¯Raleigh Seamster, project lead for Google Maps.

“We captured imagery from 10 locations that were hand-selected by CDF and GNPD. We walked past giant tortoises and blue-footed boobies, navigated through steep trails and lava fields, and picked our way down the crater of an active volcano called Sierra Negra.”

The official Google Blog reports that the backpack cameras, or Trekkers, are 42 pounds of computer with large, “soccer ball-like cameras mounted on a tower.”  The soccer ball has 15 cameras inside to capture panoramic views of some of the most inaccessible places on the islands.

But Google didn´t stop on land. They partnered with Catlin Seaview Survey to collect underwater panoramic images as well, focusing on areas being studied by CDF and GNPD. The images captured will be used by Catlin to create a visual and scientific baseline record of the marine environment surrounding the islands.

ABC News reports that Google is working with scientists to explore the footage of both land and sea, to identify the broad biodiversity of the island. The pictures will be updated regularly through the years to allow the scientists to study the effects of invasive species, tourism and climate change.

"We hope that children in classrooms around the world will be trying to discover what they can see in the images, even tiny creatures like insects," said Daniel Orellana, a scientist with the Charles Darwin Foundation.

"We can use this as an education experience for children, and there is a huge opportunity for rare discoveries."

Google launched Street View in 2007. Since then, it has expanded from easily accessible urban neighborhoods to the ocean floor, the Amazon rain forest and the Arctic. Users can go “virtual diving” in the Great Barrier Reef, the Phillipines and Hawaii.

"This whole project was part of Google's ongoing effort to build the most comprehensive and accurate map of the world," Seamster said.