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Google Maps Introduces New Underwater Panorama Street View Feature

Dian Qi |
September 26, 2012 | 8:58 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Screen shot of panoramic underwater street view (Google Maps)
Screen shot of panoramic underwater street view (Google Maps)
Ladies and gentlemen, Google has done it again. This time, Google Maps brings us a new addition to their street view feature--or should we call it ocean view. Not everyone gets to take a dive on the Great Barrier Reef or in Hawaii in their lifetime, but today, millions will have a chance to--virtually, that is. 

Google Maps and the Catlin Seaview Survey have joined forces to create a series of beautiful underwater panoramas for the world to explore through Google Maps' street view feature--and it's all for the good of science. The Catlin Seaview Survey scientific expedition has been surveying the Great Barrier Reef, as well as the Molokini Crater in Hawaii and the Apo Island marine reserve in the Philippines. 

The Catlin Seaview Survey hopes to inspire people to protect reefs, which are in danger of disappearing due to climate change. Global warming has led to issues such as a rise in ocean temperature and ocean acidification, in addition to a slew of other reasons like destructive fishing practices and pollution that are also contributing to the extinction of reefs.

"This is a critical decade for coral reefs," states Catlin project director Richard Vevers in an interview with AFP. "We need to bridge the gap between scientific understanding and public awareness…We need people to be able to experience the ocean."

Catlin's website talks about the importance of coral reefs in "regulat[ing] the climate and mak[ing] our planet habitable." Coral reefs are one of the most biologically diverse environments on earth, next to rain forests. They only constitute 0.1% of the ocean's surface, but are home to a whopping 25% of all marine life.

50% of the world's coral reefs have been lost in the past 30 years, and projects like this aim to spread awareness so that the generations ahead of us may have the opportunity to experience the beauty of the reefs as well.

The underwater panoramas can be seen here.

Reach Staff Reporter Dian Qi here.



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