Webcam on the Great Barrier Reef

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Marine scientists have installed a permanent underwater camera on the Great Barrier Reef in the hope that it will give them a better insight into the daily life of coral, sea creatures, rising temperatures and coral bleaching.

The webcam has been set up by researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) at Davies Reef in the waters off Townsville in north Queensland. It will take photographs of the area every 15 minutes and these will then be available online.

AIMS spokesman Dr Ray Berkelmans is quoted: "It's trained on a coral bommie with some lovely plate corals and really the idea for this camera is to give us real time feedback as to what the conditions of the corals are.

"We've been very good and very sophisticated at predicting coral bleaching but what we don't have is real time feedback of what the corals are actually doing, so this is kind of closing the loop for us."

The team also plan to study fish behaviour. Dr Berkelmans added: "There is a certain colony and individuals of fish that seem to hang around that bommie a lot. Pretty much those fish are in the picture all the time so I think we'd be able to build up a good database about fish behaviour. It's the sort of thing that's very hard to do on scuba."

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