Google Maps, over the course of its existence, has covered expansive landscapes, and now for Google, staying on land isn’t ambitious enough. Google Maps now takes users underwater, and the best part is you need not know how to swim! In an official blog post, the VP of Google Maps and Earth and a snorkelling enthusiast, Brian McClendon, confirmed that Google has added, the very first underwater panoramic images to Google Maps, which Google calls “the next step in our quest to provide people with the most comprehensive, accurate and usable map of the world”.

Curious users can now use the service to have their first brush with six of the most incredible living oceanic coral reefs. “Now, anyone can become the next virtual Jacques Cousteau and dive with sea turtles, fish and manta rays in Australia, the Philippines and Hawaii,” the official post reads. 

Among the visual delights that Google Maps users will be able to see will be a sea turtle swimming with a school of fish, and following a manta ray. Users can view at Apo Island, Philippines, a volcanic island and a marine reserve, and an ancient boulder coral that may be several hundred years old. Google shares that within the comforts of their living rooms, users will be able to join snorkelers in Oahu’s Hanauma Bay and drift over the vast coral reef at Maui's Molokini crater.

Interestingly, McClendon shares that they are partnering with The Catlin Seaview Survey, which is a significant scientific study of the world’s reefs, to ensure these images are available to millions of people through the Street View feature of Google Maps. The Catlin Seaview Survey, adds Google, used a specially designed underwater camera, the SVII, to capture these photos. 

You can view this video on exploring the ocean using Google Maps. 

In the meanwhile, go ahead and check out Google’s complete underwater collection, featuring Google+ underwater Hangout from the Great Barrier Reef. 

This month, Google introduced an extensive refresh to its high resolution aerial and satellite imagery, which can be viewed in both Google Maps and Google Earth. New 45-degree imagery in Google Maps spanning 30 new cities will also be introduced. Confirming the changes in an official blog post, Google’s Geo Data Strategist, Eric Kolb, says, “Improving the availability of more high quality imagery is one of the many ways we’re continuing to bring you the most comprehensive and accurate maps of the world”.

The aerial imagery on both Google Maps and Google Earth has now been updated for over 20 locations, while satellite imagery has been updated for more than 60 regions. Kolb highlights that among the new locations included in its latest release is the imagery of the Mecca in Saudi Arabia — a religious site, where more than 15 million pilgrims gather each year. Another interesting imagery is that of the Abraj Al Bait, one of the world’s tallest clock towers.

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