Google’s map of the Earth could hardly be complete without a map of the oceans. Google’s newest edition to the world map is being described as “Streetview” for the sea – imagine Streetview but as a 3D virtual tour of the sea. In fact, Google’s new “Seaview” is more than just a mapping of our oceans. It also aims to help to protect marine ecosystems and wildlife by working with Scientists to educate about the effects of the environment on our oceans. And what better place to start this then at the Great Barrier Reef along Australia’s Queensland coast where the environment is impacting the reef in a big way. Carbon emissions and rising sea temperatures have caused the reef a multitude of problems including significant decreases in certain species’ populations, coral bleaching, and heightened acid levels in the water.
Researchers at the University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute have teamed up with Google and the Catlin Coorporation to conduct a comprehensive study on the effects of climate change on the health of the coral along the 1,600-mile-long reef.
To conduct the study, the researchers have developed an underwater camera which is a maritime version of Google’s Streetview Car. The camera is able to take 360-degree panoramic under water shots in order to provide a viewers with this new “Seaview”.
In addition to helping educate us about the environmental issues impacting the reef, viewers will have a unique opportunity to see one of the Seven Wonders of the World as one might when diving – no wetsuit or plane ticket required.
According to project leader Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, a professor at the University of Queensland, ”For the first time in history, we have the technology available to broadcast the findings of an expedition through Google. Millions of people will be able to experience the life, the science and the magic that exists under the surface of our oceans.”
Aside from being entertaining for people who may never travel to the Great Barrier Reef to snorkel or scuba dive, the project hopes that the footage they capture can be used when the reef is damaged as a comparison.
It is pretty much the next best thing to diving the reefs yourself. You can see a demo of what the project will look like here.
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