Googling the beach

Associated Press

In this photo taken July 30 and made available by Visit Florida, Gregg Matthews carries a Google street view camera as he walks recording St. George Island beach in Northwest Florida. Visit Florida, the state's tourism agency, partnered with Google in the effort to map all 825 miles of Florida’s beaches. The Florida project is the first large-scale beach mapping project. The mappers are paid a straight fee of $27 per mile, but no expenses, with the walkers covering all of their own transportation and accommodations. The only money Google will pay is $1,000 at the end to buy images from the state, she said. For Matthews, $27 a mile is worth it. And he's even shed 15 pounds in the first three weeks alone. The project began in late July when Matthews began walking from the Alabama-Florida border. After mapping Florida Panhandle beaches, they will hopscotch over to Florida's Atlantic coast and move south. Eventually, another camera team will take over, curling past Miami's South Beach and other hotspots aiming to finish the project sometime in November.