You Can Take a Virtual Diving Tour of America’s Marine Sanctuaries

published Apr 19, 2020
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There’s a lot you can do to stay entertained at home: watch a movie, play a game, take an online class, go on a virtual tour of a museum. One of the more unusual online offerings: virtual scuba dives.

Even if you find the thought of getting a real-life scuba diving license terrifying, you can explore U.S. national marine sanctuaries through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Swim with sea lions, explore shipwreck sites, visit underwater statue Christ of the Abyss… The marine sanctuaries you can explore include American Samoa, the Florida Keys, the Flower Garden Banks in the Gulf of Mexico, Gray’s Reef off the coast of Georgia, Monterey Bay, the Olympic Coast, Stellwagen Bank at the mouth of the Massachusetts Bay, and Lake Huron’s Thunder Bay.

You can view the 360-degree images on your computer, but you’ll have a more immersive experience with a virtual reality headset, or with your phone in a cardboard headset (whether the official Google Cardboard or a DIY version).

The 360-degree images were each created with a set of six underwater photos edited together, NOAA explains. The agency says it will continue to add images of marine sanctuaries so you’ll be able to keep exploring.

You can also find much more ocean footage from NOAA on its YouTube channel. You’ll see creatures like the flapjack devilfish and amazing phenomena like coral spawning

If all this footage makes you want to learn more about the ocean, NOAA has educational resources for kids and teachers on its website. (The Students page has videos and primers on a bunch of species, plus more info about different possible ocean-related career paths.)