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Google releases 'underwater street view' of Great Barrier Reef, more

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    Lady Elliot Island, Great Barrier Reef, as seen in the new 'underwater street view' feature on Google Maps.Google

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    Hanauma Bay, Oahu, Hawaii, as seen in the new 'underater street view' on Google Maps.Google

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    Sept. 17, 2012: The deep reef team captures panoramic pictures for the Catlin Seaview Survey.Underwater Earth / Richard Vevers

Good luck getting driving directions.

A new partnership between mapping giant Google and The Catlin Seaview Survey, a major scientific study of the world’s reefs, allows you to surf through the world’s oceans with the first underwater panoramas in Google Maps.

The company has updated its Street View feature to incorporate the amazing images of the Great Barrier Reef, Hanauma Bay in Hawaii, and other sites in Australia, the Philippines and more.

“Whether you’re a marine biologist, an avid scuba diver or a landlocked landlubber, we encourage you to dive in and explore the ocean with Google Maps,” wrote Brian McClendon, vice president of Google Maps and Earth, in a blog post unveiling the new feature.

He called the new images “the next step in our quest to provide people with the most comprehensive, accurate and usable map of the world.”

A cruise through the new art work reveals stunning sights: a sea turtle swimming among a school of fish, a manta ray adrift, and the reef at sunset. Or visit the entire collection and choose a virtual destination yourself.

The images were captured with a specially designed underwater camera, the Catlin Seaview SVII. It takes rapid-fire 360-degree images every 3 seconds while traveling at a speed of approximately 2.5 miles per hour. Images are then stitched together and published online to create the virtual dive, the company explains.

There are currently only two SVII’s in in the world, according to the Seaview Survey. One is named Sylvia after oceanographer, aquanaut and author Sylvia Earle, the second Ron after the legendary shark photographer Ron Taylor.

So surf away! Just don’t try to find these images on an iPhone 5.