Google is teaming up with researchers from the University of Queensland, Australia and their sponsor the Caitlin Group to produce an undersea version of Google's popular 'streetview'.
The project, known as the Caitlin Seaview Survey aims to find out as much as possible about the health of the Great Barrier Reef and its inhabitants while allowing the public to enjoy exploring the beauty of this fragile environment from the comfort of their own home.
Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg from the Global Change institute at The University of Queensland, and the project's chief scientist said: "The Catlin Seaview Survey comprises a series of studies which will reveal to the public one of the last frontiers on Earth: the oceans. For the first time in history, we have the technology available to broadcast the findings and 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."
The main project will start in September this year and will take the form of various surveying techniques designed to cope with the differing conditions at each depth.
A shallow reef survey will be carried out using a 360° camera mounted on a motorised 'scooter' which will pull the diver cameraman behind it. Deep water reef surveys at depths from 30 to 100 metres will be performed by robotic mini-subs and finally a survey studying the migratory behaviours of the reefs 'megafauna' such as green turtles, manta rays and tiger sharks will take place with the help of satellite tagging.
It's hoped that the data collected will be useful for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Parks Authority when the reef is damaged by ships, storms, bleaching events or pollution. Over the coming years, the survey intends to expand globally to reveal the oceans in regions of importance all over the world.
Take a look at the first sample surveys in the video below.
More information on the project can be found on the Caitlin Seaview Survey website.
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