Google Maps currently lets you see the streets of America and travel up and down them (with a 360° view) with the click of a button; it’s the kind of thing that’s great for house hunting when you want to scope out the neighborhood without getting in the car.
But now, Google is taking their ‘street view’ even further by mapping out the 70% of the world that we don’t see on a regular basis: the ocean floor. Teaming up with The Catlin Seaview Survey, the crew took six months to document six different underwater seascapes, ranging from Hawaii to the Philippines.
A specially designed underwater camera called the SVII camera,which Boing Boing reports is the world’s first tablet-operated underwater camera (they used the Samsung Galaxy tablet), was used to capture the breathtaking underwater views.
About the project, from The Caitlin Seaview Survey:
For the public at large, the Catlin Seaview Survey will bring unprecedented accessibility to our oceans through ‘virtual diving’. Just as you might navigate on dry land with Google’s Street View on your desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone, now you can drop a pin into the ocean, dive in and explore hundreds of km of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea.
The first Catlin Seaview Survey expedition on the Great Barrier Reef set off on 16th September 2012.
The survey on the Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Sea runs until the end of December and will visit 20 separate coral reefs along the 2,300km reef on an unprecedented scale and depth range – including sections of the reef that have never previously been seen or studied before. It will then continue on to selected global locations in 2013 including Hawaii, the Philippines and Bermuda.
There are two science components to the Catlin Seaview Survey: a Shallow Reef Survey and a Deep Reef Survey:
· Shallow Reef Survey: The Shallow Reef Survey will involve scientists using state-of-theart digital technology to capture approximately 50,000 360-degree panoramic images of the reef that can be linked to create a virtual dive experience. Each image will be geo-located, with automated technologies for rapidly assessing the amount of coral cover and other life forms from locations at 20 separate coral reefs along the entire length of the Great Barrier Reef. This will provide a broad scale baseline for understanding change on coral reefs.
· Deep Reef Survey: Using diving robots and other innovative instrument packages, the Catlin Seaview Survey Team will begin to explore deep water reef systems that are very rarely visited by humans, yet may hold some of the secrets of whether or not coral reefs could survive rapid climate change. Using a combination of HD cameras, deep-diving robots and survey equipment, the deep-water component will provide a comprehensive study of the health composition and biodiversity of the deep-water reefs on the Great Barrier Reef. It will also experimentally assess their susceptibility to increased temperatures and ocean acidification, which are byproducts of a changing climate. It’s entirely probable new species will be discovered in these deeper waters.
Sources: Google Blog, The Caitlin Seaview Survey, Boing Boing.