Stuck at home with nowhere to go? Get behind the screen and give “couch diving” a totally different meaning with these amazing virtual dives. All you need is a desktop computer, smartphone, or tablet, and you’re all set. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Google Earth offer viewers the chance to keep themselves entertained and educated in the underwater world without having to leave the house or get their fins wet.
NOAA’s Virtual Dives allow you to view different spots within a marine sanctuary from every angle thanks to 360-degree imagery. No wetsuit or fins required! These pictures were taken by underwater photographers and then stitched together to form these captivating images. More pictures will be added as NOAA divers collect more snapshots. For a more immersive experience, it is recommended to pair your device with a VR headset or goggles.
Viewers can “dive” in the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, Florida Keys, Gray’s Reef, Flower Garden Banks, Monterey Bay, the Olympic Coast, Stellwagen Bank, and Thunder Bay. Each gallery provides several dives to choose from and you can pick anything from colorful reefs and kelp forests to old wrecks, now encrusted with marine growth. This collaboration between NOAA and The Ocean Agency not only offers divers the opportunity to visit or revisit spectacular diving spots within the United States but can also be used as a tool for parents in teaching their young ones about marine ecosystems.
Unsurprisingly, Google Earth has a virtual dive feature too – The World’s Ocean. Thanks to its collaboration with Underwater Earth and The Ocean Agency, Google goes beyond the United States, covering many different places across the globe. Go for a dive on the colorful Great Barrier Reef, see the manta rays of Komodo Island, swim among thousands of schooling fish in Palau, and discover many other breathtaking dive sites around the world regardless of where you are.
While going for a virtual dive does not replace the real diving experience, it can be a relaxing way to spend your time and reconnect with the ocean. And hey – at least you don’t have to gear up for these dives!