Reef News 23/2/12
A new scientific survey studying the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) offers aquarists the chance to take a ‘virtual dive’ on the GBR. Although the survey is not yet fully underway, you can take a look at a number of coral bommies around Heron Island. To see the demo go to: The Catlin Seaview Survey
This has the potential to be a great resource for reefkeepers looking to put together a more natural, captive reef display.
The Heron Island images range from a depth between approximately 6m to 16m, giving you an appreciation of natural coral colouration on the reef.
The Catlin Seaview Survey, which was officially announced today, marks the launch of a pioneering scientific expedition that aims to carry out the first comprehensive study to document and reveal the composition and health of coral reefs on the Great Barrier Reef across an unprecedented depth range (0-100m).
Chief Scientist for the project, Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg from the Global Change institute at The University of Queensland said that the scientific data gathered during the project will strengthen the understanding about how climate change and other environmental changes are likely to affect ocean ecosystems like the Great Barrier Reef. He stressed that the visual nature of the project will also help bridge the gap between scientific knowledge and public awareness.
“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. This project is very exciting.”
The Survey is not just another scientific expedition – it aims to capture the public’s imagination and engage people with the science like never before.
The Catlin Seaview Survey camera, developed specifically for the expedition, will capture thousands of 360-degree underwater panoramas which, when stitched together, will allow people to choose a location, dip underwater and go for a virtual dive at all of the locations visited by the expedition.
Google is collaborating with the Catlin Seaview Survey and is working on a new feature on Panoramio (which links photos to locations), so that the 360-degree panorama images can be uploaded and made available to millions of people worldwide. This will eventually mean that roughly 50,000 panoramas from the Survey will be accessible on Google Earth and Google Maps. The project will also have a dedicated YouTube channel and the ability to broadcast Hangouts on air, which allows people to watch live streams of the expedition team from the ocean floor.
The Catlin Seaview Survey will include a shallow reef survey, a deep reef survey and a mega-fauna survey, which combined will provide a baseline assessment of the composition, biodiversity and wellbeing of the Reef. The expedition will launch on the Great Barrier Reef in September 2012.
The Catlin Seaview Survey:
1. Shallow Reef Survey:
The shallow reef survey will use a custom-designed underwater vehicle with a 360-degree camera to generate imagery of the reef. In collaboration with The University of Queensland, this will be assessed using image recognition software to enable a rapid visual census of corals, fish and many other organisms at 20 sites across the entire length of the 2,300km Great Barrier Reef. This will provide a broad-scale baseline for understanding climate change on coral reefs.
2. Deep-water Survey:
Using diving robots, the deep-water survey will explore the reef at depths of 30-100 metres, of which little is known, yet may hold some of the secrets of whether or not the coral reefs will 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.
3. Mega-fauna Survey:
The mega-fauna survey team, led by Emmy award winning cinematographer and shark researcher Richard Fitzpatrick, will study the migratory behaviour of tiger sharks, green turtles and manta rays in response to increasing seawater temperatures. A total of 50 animals will be tracked with satellite tags that continuously monitor their geographic position, temperature and depth. This data can then be compared against oceanographic data to get a better understanding of the animal’s behaviour and migrational responses to the warming of the oceans.
The Catlin Seaview Survey is collaboration between global insurance company Catlin Group Limited, not for- profit organisation Underwater Earth (project creators) and partner Google.
The content captured through the Catlin Seaview Survey will be added to Google platforms and will also be available on the Catlin Seaview Survey website – catlinseaviewsurvey.com. Over the coming years, the Survey intends to expand globally to reveal the oceans in regions of importance all over the world.
Update, 26th September 2012
Catlin Seaview Survey added to Google maps streetview
Along with the virtual dives at the Catlin Seaview Survey website, Catlin Seaview is now available on Google Maps, and can be accessed in 2 ways, via the Street View Gallery or through the links below:
Multiple virtual dives are available at these sites but so far I’ve found it easier to navigate these dives through the Catlin Survey website.
26 September 2012