Google goes underwater as coral reefs gets Street View treatment

27/09/2012

Google has gone underwater for its latest addition to its street view service, offering 360 degree interactive tours of some of the world’s most famous coral reefs. The firm has partnered with the Catlin Seaview Survey to add areas from the Great Barrier Reef and several other underwater spots. Other areas include Lady Elliot Island, Molokini Crater, Maui, Hanauma Bay, Hawaii, Oahu, and Apo Island, Philippines.

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The new service also includes panoramic pictures of reefs from above the surface. Google has previously offered computer-generated views of the sea floor terrain, but this is the first time it has incorporated underwater photographs into its mapping product.

"The Global Reef Record is a scientific tool that scientists around the world will have at their fingertips," said the project’s chief scientist, Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg from the Global Change Institute at The University of Queensland.

"They will be able to monitor change in marine environments now and in the future. Marine scientists researching any aspect of the reef will be able to study these environments from any of the surveys we conduct," Hoegh-Guldberg added.

To analyse the new material, researchers are using image recognition software to identify the creatures recorded in the photographs, and 3D-modelling programmes to monitor how the habitats change over time.

View the panoramas here, as part of Google’s World Wonders Project

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