Google has released a collection of imagery of polar bears in their natural habitat in honour of International Report Day, which took place on 27 February. The footage was taken from remote areas around Churchill, Manitoba in Canada and form part of an initiative to draw more attention to the effects of climate change in the area.
According to Krista Wright of Polar Bears International, writing in her post on the official Google blog, the feat was achieved by the Google Maps team mounting “…the Street View Trekker onto a specially designed Tundra Buggy” which allowed them to travel across the photographed area without getting in the way of the polar bears or their neighbours. The team worked through October and November last year and collected Street View imagery from the shores of Hudson’s Bay as the polar bears waited for the ocean to ice over.
The scenery can be accessed on this dedicated View page on Google’s Maps site. You can go try your hand at polar bear spotting, as well as visit the Churchill Northern Studies Centre, the Eskimo Museum, or the Northern Lights observation deck. Virtually, of course.
This isn’t all for show however. According to Wright “Bringing Street View to Canada’s tundra establishes a baseline record of imagery associated with specific geospatial data — information that’s critical if we’re to understand and communicate the impact of climate change on their [the bear’s]sensitive ecosystem. As we work to safeguard their habitat, PBI can add Street View imagery to the essential tools we use to assess and respond to the biggest threat facing polar bears today.”
Source: Digital Trends