Google Earth Has a Street View of Tubbataha Reef
Tubbataha Reef is a collection of coral reefs in the Sulu Sea. In 1993, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization or UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site because of its very high density of marine species. It sits at the center of the world’s coral triangle, where a dense concentration of marine life is found: It hosts 75 percent of the world’s described coral species and 40 percent of all the world’s described reef fish.
Tubbataha Reef is just one of the 140 virtual diving sites you can visit on Google Earth. The Philippines, known to have some of the world’s best diving spots, has three diving sites on Google Street View’s underwater locations. These are the Jessie Beazly Reef (in the Sulu Sea and part of Tubbataha Reefs), the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (also in the Sulu Sea), and the Apo Island Reefs. Apo Island is a volcanic island that is surrounded by a marine reserve. Most of the 450 coral species in the Philippines are found in Apo Island.
Ninety-Nine Percent of People Don’t Dive
According to Underwater Earth Limited, a charity based in Australia, 99 percent of people never get to experience diving, and this affects ocean conservation. Underwater Earth was part of the team that brought Google Street View underwater. It developed XL Caitlin, an underwater camera that makes it possible for Google to create navigable photographs with 360-degree panoramic vision of underwater life, just like how people experience Street View. People can also zoom in or out of a viewing point.
Underwater Street View is for Raising Awareness
Underwater Street View was developed to raise awareness about how humans impact marine life. “We hope that our new underwater Street View images will encourage people to fall in love with the ocean, both with its beauty and fragility, and want to protect it,” said Lorna Parry, co-founder and managing director of Underwater Earth.
Areas of particular interest are the Million Dollar Point in Vanuatu, where the U.S. dumped its jeeps and bulldozers after World War II, and Lizard Island in the Great Barrier Reef, where corals are starting to fade, having lost their protection against the sun’s UV rays.
How to View Google Street View’s Underwater Features
To view Google Street View’s underwater diving sites, simply download Google Earth on your mobile phone or go to its browser mode.
Then, click the Street View icon to display areas on the map where the feature is available. These are shaded in blue.
To view locations underwater, look for blue areas in the seas. In the Philippines, these are located in the Sulu Sea southeast of Palawan and Apo Island.
You may also view listed underwater Street View locations here.