Google Maps Street View has long allowed users to zoom down to street-level to see close-ups of city storefronts and suburban homes. The images are shot by car-mounted cameras that Google employees have driven over millions of miles of roads across the U.S. Together with The Catlin Seaview Survey, Google developed an undersea Street View camera capable of offering an intimate look at these ecosystems—as if one’s swimming above and among them while snorkeling or Scuba diving.
While this is the first time undersea images have been made available on Google Maps, it’s not the first time Google has let us glimpse beneath the sea. A couple years ago they added an Ocean layer to Google Earth. That project was spearheaded by National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Sylvia Earle, and created using many photos and videos from Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic.
Google Maps ‘Reef View’ offers an easy way for armchair adventurers to explore the planet’s beautiful, remote places. And hopefully as more people see these delicate reefs, more of them will advocate for their preservation and protection.
Last April in Baja California our guests spotted huge aggregations of these mobula rays in the Sea of Cortez. On a bright, sunny, calm day we were able to see deep into the water. For each ray that leapt into the air hundreds more circled below feeding. This excellent BBC footage captures a bit of the same phenomenon.
A crewmember on the Sea Shepherd in Antarctica captured this unusual sequence of images a couple years ago. “I literally raised my camera to my eye (Canon 1D Mark II w/70-200/2.8L lens), and the arch collapsed. I mashed the shutter button down and captured 20 frames—in bursts. I shot in bursts because I was afraid that the buffer wouldn’t hold.” He put it together those shots in this 9-second clip of the iceberg arch’s collapse. Antarctica is the world’s last great wilderness—come see it for yourself.
NASA also recently released this image of the top of the world, that includes the entire high Arctic region. It’s compiled from 15 satellite passes of a spacecraft that circled earth pole-to-pole in May and offers a look from a seldom-seen vantage point.
Casey Anderson, a bear expert and host of Nat Geo Wild’s program America The Wild, joined us in Alaska last month. Here he shares some insight into how the bears along the shore are interacting with us even as we sit and watch them from afar.
The National Geographic show Untamed Americas featured what is likely the largest school of mobular rays ever filmed. The massive school was spotted off the coast of Baja California in the Sea of Cortez last season. Our guests aboard National Geographic Sea Bird last season were witnesses to a major uptick in the number of mobular rays observed, though experts are divided on just why so many rays massed in the Sea of Cortez—and whether they’ll be back next season.
Think you know Alaska wildlife? Bears, whales, bald eagles…try this one. Undersea specialist Justin Hofman filmed an encounter with this bright red octopus while exploring Southeast Alaska. An undersea specialist travels on every Alaska expedition, diving beneath the ship’s bow with powerful lights to film these strange and beautiful creatures and share the underwater world with our guests.
Sven Lindblad led a Baja California expedition aboard National Geographic Sea Bird in mid-April. The whales, dolphins, frenzy of activity in this video all took place in the matter of a few hours one afternoon, though it is by no means out of the ordinary for the region. Baja California’s Sea of Cortez is among the richest seas in the world and the very best place to see the greatest variety and number of whales and marine mammals under the best conditions.