One mouse click away from Ecuador's Galapagos

28th May 2013

Trekking holiday fans will soon be able to instantly transport themselves to Ecuador's Galapagos Islands … at a click of a mouse or finger swipe on a tablet.

Google sent hikers to the awesome archipelago of volcanic islands with Street View gear called "trekkers".

These are 19-kilogram computer backpacks with ball-like cameras mounted on a tower.

They took footage that the company hopes to share as an educational tool on Google Maps later this year.

The Galapagos, a great favourite with nature-loving holidaymakers on specialist tours, inspired Charles Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection.

Giant tortoises, prehistoric lizards, sea lions, penguins and myriad bird species can all be seen and approached on these remote islands 1,000km (620 miles) off Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean.

Each orb has 15 cameras that captured panoramic views of previously inaccessible places.

The Catlin Seaview Survey crew worked with Google to capture 360-degree views of underwater sites too.

They captured the nesting areas of blue-footed boobies, the red-throated "magnificent frigatebirds", swimming hammerhead sharks and those giant tortoises.

The team spent 10 days hiking over trails and even down the crater of an active volcano.

Raleigh Seamster, project leader for Google Maps, said. "With half of the life there under the water, we brought Street View underwater to swim with sea lions, sharks and other marine animals."

Scientists, exploring footage for other species, hope to regularly update the pictures while studying the effects of invasive species, tourism and climate change on the island's ecosystems.

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