A real-time 'Seaview' of the Great Barrier Reef
February 23rd, 2012
06:19 PM ET

A real-time 'Seaview' of the Great Barrier Reef

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - Google's Street View makes it possible for Internet users to travel virtually to the peaks of mountains, the depths of the Amazon rainforest and the halls of famous art museums (maybe it's time to change the name from Street View?).

Now the tech giant is going to help a scientific research group broadcast images of an unprecedented, robot-enabled expedition to Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

Called the Catlin Seaview Survey, the research project will use 360-degree cameras to film the reef in an unprecedented way, traveling from the surface to depths of more than 300 feet, the group said in a press release Thursday.

Some of the images will be broadcast live on Google's social network, Google+. The group also plans to release thousands of "360-degree underwater panoramas, which, when stitched together, will all people to choose a location, dip underwater and go for a virutal dive at all of the locations visited by the expedition."

The aim of the project is both to drive public awareness and to increase scientific understanding of the reef, which is threatened by climate change. The images will act as baseline data for further study of how warming ocean temperatures affect one of nature's greatest wonders.

In a statement, Catlin's founder, Stephen Catlin, wrote:

“We are sponsoring the Catlin Seaview Survey so that experts obtain objective scientific data they require to make more reliable conclusions about the impact of climate and environmental changes on our oceans and our planet as a whole. The results will be broadcast on a scale never attempted before, so it is an exciting time for science. We’re proud to be part of the team leading this pioneering project.”

The group has created an impressive website with information about the effort. Google is also said to be developing a YouTube channel to host videos from the expeditions, which will begin in September. Catlin, an insurance company, is sponsoring the project in collaboration with the non-profit Underwater Earth. A researcher from the University of Queensland is "chief scientist" on the effort.

CNN's Phil Han spoke with a researcher behind the project, who said that citizen scientists will be able to help with the research by submitting virtual measurements of the coral they see on their screens. Check out the interview and a visual tour of the reef and how this project will work in this video:

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Filed under: Environment • Innovation • Science • Tech
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. Galvanised Gates

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    May 29, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Reply
  2. Galvanised Feed barrier

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    April 15, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Reply
  3. Cattle Feeder

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    April 5, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Reply
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    April 5, 2012 at 11:51 am | Reply
  5. ripple bay

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    April 1, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Reply
  6. cpc65

    When I saw "Seaview" I was hoping maybe they built the sub of that name from the 60's TV show Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. That would be awesome, but this is still very breathtakingly beautiful.

    February 28, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Reply
  7. paco mga

    That's a great idea and clever project. I hope they'd come to NEW CALEDONIA to film it's great barrier which is the longest in the WORLD !!

    February 28, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Reply
  8. cj

    *will all people to choose a location...i believe this should have the word allow and not all...

    February 28, 2012 at 9:21 am | Reply
  9. PW

    too bad about the typos in this article ! will "all" people to choose? it's allow. a virutal dive? need a proofreader over there at CNN? hire ME

    February 28, 2012 at 9:03 am | Reply
  10. Yesman

    The need a fleet of nuclear powered fully robotic versions of this, to film EVERYTHING down there!

    February 27, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Reply
  11. usjennyjen

    i'm gettin giddy just thinking about it!

    February 26, 2012 at 11:41 am | Reply
    • Asya

      Posted on Great post Sam.First step is to drop the Best Integrated Campaign' category from avisrtdeing awards ceremonies. Not a great example of integration as a verb' to young planners out there.

      September 25, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Reply
  12. Website Design

    A couple years ago six of our family members travelled all across Austrlia and loved it. The Great Barrier Reef was amazing! Never saw so much color and incredible fish in my life.

    February 26, 2012 at 7:05 am | Reply
  13. MashaSobaka

    Everyone should see this. Everyone should have to take a good, long look at the world we're killing and understand that beautiful places like this need to be preserved. There is so much left to save, and so much worth saving. Let's get on it. Bravo to the people who are participating in this project.

    February 25, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Reply
    • Patty

      Those of us that can't go deep sea diving ,will be able to see up close & personal pics of things we would never see if not for Google! You go Google!

      February 27, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Reply
  14. Death To Muggles

    Waiting to see the inside of the earth.
    All those people living underground.

    February 25, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Reply
  15. James Smith

    Create a Roku Channel for this !

    February 25, 2012 at 11:45 am | Reply
    • Pablo

      Awesome Keith and Teddie! This morning was the first LIVE TV bdacraost we've done. We've been airing over our internet Radio channel for close to a year but this TV bdacraost was a venture in to new territory. We're estatic that you joined us for the bdacraost!! God Bless you and please do join us again Bill Gillespie (CHBC Media Team)P.S I'll be sure to let Pastor Jim know that you were with us

      May 1, 2012 at 4:06 am | Reply
  16. mary

    Awesome..I love google earth..
    But recently with the new update, those of us running older computers lost our street view.. And can not get the newer version, that would allow us to use the new street view.
    So its really depressing ..Knowing this is going to be there too and I can't get it.. Without the expense of a new computer..

    February 25, 2012 at 3:17 am | Reply
  17. Scott

    It would be great if they could send a camera through my entire digestive track.

    February 24, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Reply
    • M Houston

      The last thing ANYONE ('cept maybe your Proctologist) wants to see is ANY part of your in/digestive track...

      February 24, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Reply
      • SilentBoy741

        As Bette Davis once said - "What a dump!"

        February 24, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • Mike

      I just had that procedure done both through my mouth and my backside at the same time. They knock you out with Propofol. SWEET STUFF, no wonder MJ loved it so much. When I woke up in recovery all you can hear is people talking about Michael Jackson.... was totally effffed up. Good news, no polyps or ulcers. YAY!

      February 24, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Reply
    • Death To Muggles

      They looked into your ear and found.......nothing.

      February 25, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Reply
    • Utty

      I think I have an old 80s VHS video camera here we can lube up and.......

      February 28, 2012 at 5:55 am | Reply
  18. gravis

    I came here looking for Admiral Nelson and Captain Crane

    February 24, 2012 at 11:45 am | Reply
    • hecep

      My calculations show that this "realtime" Seaview deal would yield a Flying Sub the size of a tea cup platter. If anyone is interested, I can firm-up those calcs.

      February 24, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Reply
    • SilentBoy741

      I came here looking for Barbara Eden dancing on a table. Now *that's* some beautiful underwater scenery.

      February 24, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Reply
    • HamsterDancer

      We've got to be the old fogies to even get the Nelson, Crane, and Flying Sub references!

      February 27, 2012 at 9:29 am | Reply
  19. SilentBoy741

    If you're so lost that your driving directions are starting to use Google SeaView data, then you've got bigger problems tha just where you missed your exit.

    February 24, 2012 at 11:28 am | Reply
  20. Colin Cannon

    Next up GoogleColon, can't wait to see my duodenum.

    February 24, 2012 at 10:49 am | Reply
    • hecep

      You mean you haven't seen it yet?! Where have you been?

      February 24, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Reply
    • MashaSobaka

      I first saw mine when I was eighteen. Get with it, bro!

      February 25, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Reply
  21. jim

    Bringing the world to everyone. So many applications can be used on this as long as big business profits and greed don't get in the way. Video Games could utilize this information as well as schools and education locals.

    February 24, 2012 at 9:25 am | Reply
  22. boarddog


    February 24, 2012 at 9:00 am | Reply
  23. T. Steven Sullivan

    As a former Navy Diver, I am extremely excited to hear about this project. I think this will be a great way for people who are not physically capable to be able to explore the beauties of the reef. Plus, it will help people understand why natural wonders such as this need to be preserved. This could have the same impact in our modern world, that Ansel Adams' photography had so long ago.

    February 24, 2012 at 8:43 am | Reply


    February 24, 2012 at 7:46 am | Reply

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