The wonders of 360-degree photography and virtual reality bring these underwater parks right up to the tip of your fingers. NOAA recently launched a virtual dive gallery accessible on any computer or mobile device, complete with immersive 360-degree views of five national marine sanctuaries: American Samoa, Florida Keys, Flower Garden Banks, Gray’s Reef, and Thunder Bay.

According to NOAA:

“Virtual dive experiences provide an exciting opportunity for the National Marine Sanctuary System to share tangible examples of the threats facing the ocean and sanctuary resources so that the public can learn more about these issues. In the coming year, we also plan to use virtual imagery to enhance our educational exhibits and displays at visitor centers, and in our interactions with students in schools and classrooms across the country.”

NOAA plans to add more virtual dives in the future, including “Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale,” “Monterey Bay,” “Stellwagen Bank,” “Channel Islands,” and the Olympic Coast national marine sanctuaries as well as the Papah?naumoku?kea Marine National Monument.


It’s the ability to view a spot within a sanctuary from every angle; to be able to explore the surrounding environment as though you were there. This virtual reality experience is made possible through technology that produces 360 degree images which are “stitched” together from a series of six underwater photos. These pictures are taken by trained divers with special cameras, and are the product of an exciting collaboration between the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and The Ocean Agency. We will continue to add images from across the sanctuary system as our NOAA divers collect more snapshots, so be sure to check the above galleries often to see new virtual dives!

These sanctuary views can be seen on a personal computer or a smartphone. Pair your phone with a virtual reality headset or goggles of your choice (and click the googles icon icon) for an extra‐immersive experience.

Check the virtual dives here.

Source: National Maritime Sanctuary

Photo credit: National Maritime Sanctuary