You may soon be able to explore the wonders of the Florida Keys from the comfort of your home. Google is taking its Street View mapping technology beneath the waves, using round, SVII cameras to snap images "over an area up to 20 times larger than what's available with traditional underwater photography," the AP reports. As the cameras, which will be attached to scuba divers and powered by motors, begin capturing photos in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, photos could be uploaded to Google Maps as soon as this week.
They're not just there for your benefit, however. Scientists will use them to study coral restoration and the effects of global warming, pollution, and hurricanes. In fact, government scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will be the ones getting wet, adding to the collection of 360-degree photos of Australian and Caribbean reefs. Google, however, is a sponsor of the endeavor, along with the Catlin Seaview Survey, which has uploaded photos from previous surveys to the Catlin Global Reef Record. Next stop for the technology, officials say: Southeast Asia—though other NOAA sanctuaries, including California’s Monterey Bay sanctuary, could be in line. (Read more Florida Keys stories.)