SAN FRANCISCO — Few have explored the remote volcanic islands of the Galapagos archipelago, an otherworldly landscape inhabited by the world’s largest tortoises and other fantastical creatures that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. But soon it will take only the click of a mouse.
Google Inc. sent hikers to the Galapagos with Street View gear called ‘‘trekkers,’’ 42-pound computer backpacks with soccer ball-like cameras mounted on a tower.
Each orb has 15 cameras inside it that have captured panoramic views of some of the most inaccessible places on the Galapagos. Crews from Catlin Seaview Survey worked with Google to capture 360-degree views of selected underwater areas, too.
Google is processing the footage and is trying to stitch it together. It hopes to post it to Street View later this year.
The cameras captured the nesting sites of blue-footed boobies, the red-throated ‘‘magnificent frigatebirds,’’ swimming hammerhead sharks, and, of course, giant tortoises.
Scientists working with Google are exploring the footage for other species and hope to update the pictures throughout the years as they study the effects of invasive species, tourism, and climate change.
‘‘We hope that children in classrooms around the world will be trying to discover what they can see in the images, even tiny creatures like insects,’’ said Daniel Orellana, a Charles Darwin Foundation scientist. ‘‘We can use this as an education experience.”
Orellana and others supervised the Google trekkers and helped guide them to remote areas either off limits to tourists or rarely visited.