How Sheep Finally Got the Faroe Islands on Google Street View

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Durita Dahl Andreassen of Faroe Islands' tourism bureau was tired of being ignored by Google Street View. And so she successfully petitioned the tech giant for inclusion by using camera-toting sheep. (Photo: Visit Faroe Islands)

Denmark’s two self-governing overseas territories, Greenland and the Faroe Islands, are resorting to rather unconventional methods of boosting tourism and sharing their respective natural beauty with the rest of the world.

The former, a massive ice-covered protectorate that’s geographically part of North America, is building an architecturally stunning tourism hub-cum-heritage center in which visitors can enjoy a front-row seat of a perilously fast-melting glacier.

The latter, a windswept archipelago of 18 sparely populated volcanic islands situated somewhere between Iceland, Norway and Scotland, has unleashed a flock of documentarian sheep with 360-degree cameras mounted on their backs. The imagery captured by the roving ruminants is then uploaded to Google Street View.

You see, there’s hardly a far-flung locale left on the planet that hasn’t been captured on Google Street View. From the Galapagos Islands to the Great Barrier Reef to the, yep, iceberg-clogged fjords of Greenland, its increasingly easy for armchair adventurers to ooh and aah over exotic sites that they'd love to — but may never have the chance to — visit in the flesh.

But until now, the rugged yet eye-poppingly lush Faroe Islands had been completely shut out of the Google Street View party.

Getting Google's attention

Sheep View 360, Faroe Islands
Two things the Faroe Islands have plenty of: sod roofs and sheep ... sometimes together. (Photo: Visit Faroe Islands)

Durita Dahl Andreassen of Visit Faroe Islands wanted to bolster Faroese tourism and grab the undivided attention of Google's mapping overlords. In her Sheep View 360 project, five of her own sheep were outfitted with specially designed harnesses that secured a solar-powered camera to their backs. As the woolly beasts roamed along the verdant hillsides of the isolated island chain, the cameras captured the surrounding landscape in all of its unspoiled Faroese splendor.

The "gently mounted" gear was developed by Andreassen in conjunction with a local farmer and an "inventor specialised in animal monitoring."

The photos captured by the sheep were sent to Andreassen’s smartphone, from which she uploaded the panoramic images directly to Google Street View herself. She wrote on her blog that the sheep did a fine job capturing the “tracks and trails of the Faroe Islands” that aren’t easily accessible by car. However, “in order to cover the big sweeping Faroese roads and the whole of the breath-taking landscapes, we need Google to come and map them.”

Destination: Google Street View

Durita Dahl Anderssean with sheep
Durita Dahl Andreassen and her five camera-equipped sheep led the charge to convince Google to include the Faroe Islands in its Street View feature. (Photo: Visit Faroe Islands)

Her campaign was a success, and Google Street View now includes the Faroe Islands. As she recently wrote on her blog:

When the tech giant heard about the Sheep View project, they thought it was “shear brilliance” and, in August 2016, they supplied the Faroese with a Street View Trekker and 360-degree cameras via the Street View camera loan program so that residents and tourists alike could assist the sheep in capturing even more images of the beautiful archipelago, using selfie sticks, bikes, backpacks, cars, kayaks, horses, ships and even wheelbarrows.

If you go...

Beware the roads. As Andreassen writes:

The Faroe Islands have some of the most beautiful roads in the world. It is impossible to describe what it feels like driving through the green valleys and up the mountains, or alongside the ocean, surrounded by steep drops and tall cliffs. It’s an experience like no other.

Sounds only mildly terrifying. Another unique part of driving in the Faroe Islands? An almost complete absence of traffic lights. There are only three of them, all located in the quaint and quirky capital city of Tórshavn, which also happens to be home to the country's only international fast-food outlet: a lone Burger King. (Alas, it's not a drive-through).

And if not already clear, sheep are kind of a big deal on the Faroe Islands.

In a highly developed autonomous country where a cud-chewing mammal is depicted on the coat of arms, the ovine population does indeed outnumber the human population (approximately 80,000 to 49,000 according to the tourism bureau). The Faroese name of the archipelago itself, Føroyar, translates to “islands of sheep.” And while the Faroese economy is highly dependent on fishing and, to a lesser degree, tourism, the production of woolen sweaters and socks continues to be a big money-maker, just as it has for centuries.

Via [The Guardian]