Google Street View of the Galapagos Islands goes live

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What comes to mind when you hear the words ‘Google Street View’? Urban sprawl? A tucked away residential cul de sac? An indulgent, self voyeuristic look at your own house? A Proustian recherché de temps perdu as you look at the cafés and buildings you once felt the intoxicating euphoria of love. Before that inconvenient prison sentence for stalking and that pesky restraining order.

Well here’s a new twist on the whole Google Street View phenomenon. The Galapagos Islands. Known more for rare wildlife and giant tortoises than for rail viaducts and one way systems, they have become the latest addition to the Google Street View roster.

The launch marks the 178th anniversary of the British scientist Charles Darwin's visit to the extraordinarily varied and breathtakingly beautiful islands. It was this journey, on the good ship Beagle that led Darwin to his theory of natural selection, and the islands have remained a byword for the glorious panoply of nature ever since. "The natural history of this archipelago is very remarkable: it seems to be a little world within itself," Darwin said after visiting the islands.

The high-definition 360 degrees pictures are a joint project between Google, the Galapagos National Park and the Darwin Foundation. They were taken by a special backpack camera during a 10 day survey in May this year, and the Google staff mapping out the landscape were determined to capture as many of the animals that Darwin had noted seeing back in 1835 on film for posterity and a very individualised ‘street’ view.

In exactly the same way as other Street Views around the world, you can zoom in and out of the images and move fluidly through the landscape in 360 degrees.

The Galapagos join other remote places of natural beauty like the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, and the Grand Canyon.

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