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Google Street View takes you underwater off protected Brazilian islands

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You'd be within your rights to assume the often-spotted Google Maps car must be some kind of James Bond-esque transformable submarine, because the mapping service keeps adding new slices of underwater scenery to its Street View. The latest additions are the Brazilian islands of Fernando de Noronha and Atol das Rocas, both UNESCO heritage sites that boast perfect beaches, waterfalls, pods of dolphins, and protected animal breeding grounds.

Street View is one of the few ways to see the islands — as a result of conservation efforts, they're only open to limited groups of tourists, and some sections are off-limits entirely. Users can move around the islands from home, getting 360-degree views of rock formations, schools of fish, and the Devil's Hole. Google was able to capture the images using its Street View Trekker, a 15-lens camera that pokes out of a backpack like an inquisitive flagpole.

By giving the Trekker to adventurers, researchers, and explorers, Google Maps has been able to show users remote places around the world, but the company has also used other devices to show us what's beneath the waves without us needing to get our feet wet. In 2012, Google partnered with the University of Queensland and insurance firm Catlin Group to offer "Sea View," a version of Street View that let users look around Australia's Great Barrier Reef without disrupting the delicate ecosystem. The images were captured using a 360-degree camera mounted on a small underwater scooter.