Google recently added panoramas of coral reefs to its Street View services, enabling users to navigate their way around the sites.
The material was gathered by the Catlin Seaview Survey, a project studying the health of the reefs, including the impact of global warming. "We want to be a comprehensive source for imagery that lets anyone explore anywhere," says Google ocean program manager Jenifer Foulkes. To get the images of the coral reefs, the researchers developed a submersible fitted with three wide-angle lenses designed to take high-resolution images in low-light conditions.
"The main reason is to record reef environments on an unprecedented scale and reveal them to the world," says project director Richard Vevers. To analyze the images, University of Queensland researchers are developing both image-recognition software to identify creatures recorded in the photographs and three-dimensional modeling programs to monitor how the habitats change over time. "It's analyzing the health of the reef in terms of species distribution, and mapping that against the structure of the reefs to discover what reefs are important," Vevers says.
From BBC News
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