Credit: WIkimedia Commons

Google has taken its 'street view' maps to a whole new levelnamely, the oceans depths. Already, scientists have collected 400,000 panoramic photos of coral reefs and other marine marvels off the coast of Australia and in the Caribbean, some of which viewers can access on Google Maps. This week, U.S. government scientists will dive the Florida Keys with 143-pound triple-lens cameras powered by small motors to snap 360-degree photos of the subaquatic ecosystem, according to the Associated Press. The cameras will take images up to 20 times larger than those captured by standard submersible photography equipment.

The project, sponsored by Google and Catlin Seaview Survey, will most likely increase public appreciation of these oft-overlooked marine ecosystems, but it will also aid in scientific research and preservation effortsthe data will help researchers monitor the effects of acidification, pollution and hurricanes on coral reefs, for instance. The project partners plan to snap underwater candid photos across the globe. Next stop: Southeast Asia.

Check out the ocean street view photos on Google Maps here.