Your window into the alien world of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is about to go virtual. Thanks to a partnership between Google, the University of Queensland and the Caitlin Group, travelers, sea-lovers and wannabe divers can soon get an up-close underwater view of Earth’s largest natural coral formation – all without setting foot in the ocean.
The initiative, dubbed Caitlin Seaview Survey, will employ a variety of high-tech underwater cameras to survey the reef by snapping thousands of panoramic images. The goal is to learn about the reef’s current state of health, including the impact of climate change on marine life, while also raising public awareness about these fragile natural environments. Eventually, curious viewers will be able to take a dip into the threatened waters through Google Maps and Google Earth.
As of now, the project has completed preliminary surveys, with the real work kicking off in September. The work will comprise of three sites: shallow, deep and megafauna. In the meantime, video footage from each site will be posted online to give the public a look into the project every step of the way.
“Millions of people will be able to experience the life, the science and the magic that exists under the surface of our oceans,” said the survey’s chief scientist, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg of the University of Queensland in Brisbane.
If you’re curious, the Caitlin Seaview Survey website has been put up with images and video introducing the project. It’s a wonderful initiative, and a cool way to experience the beautiful and largely foreign worlds in our oceans.