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Google maps adds new locations to its 'street view oceans' feature (+video)

Google maps announced Tuesday additional new locations to a collection of underwater images first launched in 2012. What impact can the company have on overall awareness of ocean ecosystems? 

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    This ocean collection includes six of the world's most incredible underwater spots, including coral reefs (and their inhabitants) in Australia, the Philippines and Hawaii.
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Google Maps added 40 new locations to its brilliant "ocean view" map feature on Tuesday in celebration of World Oceans Day. Much like regular street view allows you to observe homes and businesses from street level, the street view oceans feature places you in the center of coral reefs and marine life. 

New locations include Bali, the Bahamas, and the Great Barrier Reef. 

But the announcement is about more than new images, say Jenifer Austin and Brian Sullivan of the Google Ocean Program

"We hope the release of this imagery inspires people to learn more about this precious natural resource. Mapping the ocean is key to preserving it. Each image in Google Maps is a GPS-located digital record of these underwater and coastal environments, which can be used as a baseline to monitor change over time. This comprehensive record of coral reefs showcases the beauty of these ecosystems and highlights the threats they face, such as the impact of increasing storms in the Great Barrier Reef and of rising water temperatures, factors causing the reefs to bleach white."

Statistics released by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) give a disheartening picture of the oceans' overall health. 

According to UNESCO, there are now close to 500 dead zones. In these areas, excessive nutrients from sewage outfalls and agricultural runoff have contributed to low oxygen environments that are unable to support ecosystems. 

So can these images actually raise awareness? 

With over one billion people using Google in 2013, it's definitely possible. 

Others have spoken out against ocean pollution on social media, hoping to reach broader audiences. Attendees of the World Ocean Council last week used the hashtag #OceanSummit in their tweets to begin a global conversation about Earth's oceans. 

Recommended: Five hopeful signs global energy is getting cleaner

Google has the resources needed to make a large impact for Ocean conservation awareness, a role they recognize and embrace.

Flipping through the images and "swimming" through the blue-toned waves you will encounter Humpback whales in the Cook Islands, a shipwreck in Aruba, the world's heaviest fish in Indonesia, and colorful schools of fish in the Maldives. 

Google also announced new partnerships with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, Reef Check, and Blue Ventures, among others. 

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