Google takes Street View to Galapagos Islands

Google employees spent 10 days gathering imagery and data while on an expedition in the archipelago.

Google recently completed a 10-day image-gathering expedition to the Galapagos Islands and plans to make the results available later this year through Google Maps.

Google announced on Thursday that it had sent an army of hikers equipped with the Street View Trekker — its backpack-style camera — to take Street View pictures of the UN World Heritage Site. 

Trekker 2 - corrected
Daniel Orellana of the Charles Darwin Foundation resurfaces after collecting imagery in a lava tunnel. Image: Google

The Street View Trekker is operated by an Android device and consists of 15 lenses angled in different directions so that images it captures can be stitched together into 360-degree panoramic views. It takes photos roughly every two and a half seconds as the Trekker carrier walks along with it on their back.

Google will use the data collected with the Street View Trekker to produce the 360-degree shots for 10 areas chosen by the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) and the Galapagos National Parks Directorate (GNPD)

The imagery, which will be available on Google Street View through Google Maps, will also provide a visual record that the CDF and GNPD "will use to study and protect the islands by demonstrating how these delicate environments have changed over time", Google said. 

During the hikes, Google Maps project lead Raleigh Seamster said in a blogpost that the team "walked past giant tortoises and blue-footed boobies, navigated through steep trails and lava fields, and picked our way down the crater of an active volcano called Sierra Negra".

Google also collected underwater panoramic imagery around the archipelago with the help of the Catlin Seaview Survey. As Google revealed at I/O last week, the Catlin Seaview Survey currently had four underwater Street View cameras.

1 SVII with Sealions1© Catlin Seaview Survey
Christophe Bailhache gets the SVII camera up close and personal with a large group of sea lions at Champion Island in the Galapagos. Image: Catlin Seaview Survey

Google has been taking its Street View Trekkers far and wide, with recent expeditions to the Grand Canyon and Canada's arctic territory.

The Galapagos expedition is the first time that Google has collected imagery from both land and sea on the same trip.