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Above, the camera bobs just below of the surface of the sea at Wilson Island in Australia.
Data gathered from the dives will go into a public database called the Global Reef Record, according to the Catlin Seaview Survey. "The Global Reef Record is a game-changing scientific tool that scientists around the world will have at their fingertips. They will be able to monitor change in marine environments now and in the future," Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, the project's lead scientist, said in a statement.
Above: the knobbly seabed landscape of Apo Island in the Philippines, home to more than 400 species of coral.
Google's Brian McClendon described the underwater panoramas as "the next step in our quest to provide people with the most comprehensive, accurate and usable map of the world"; possibly a veiled dig at rival Apple, which has taken flak for errors and odd imagery in its new mapping service for iOS 6.
Google has certainly been driving its Street View technology into new areas in the last few years. In 2011, Google Art Project photographed the interiors of some of the world's biggest art galleries, allowing people a close-up look at famous paintings from their armchairs. It has also announced plans to use its Street View tech to snap the interiors of shops and restaurants.
The ocean images are unlikely to run into the same sort of complaints over invasion of privacy that met the original Street View service, unless scantily clad snorkellers and aggrieved fish take exception.