Google Street View is set to take cameras underwater to map Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, in conjunction with The University of Queensland's Global Change Institute, for a comprehensive study on coral health, dubbed the Catlin Seaview Survey. Also involved are the non-profit organization Underwater Earth and insurance company Catlin.
The Great Barrier Reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, and is the world's largest structure composed of living organisms, able to be viewed from space. The project is meant to study the effects of climate change on the reef, and to provide Google users the chance to virtually explore one of the most biologically diverse spots on the planet, composed of over 2,900 individual reefs, and 900 islands, stretching for over 1,600 miles. The Catlin Coorporation has developed the SVII underwater camera, which takes 360 degree panoramic shots every 4-6 seconds, moving at about 4km/hr.
Here is an awesome look at some Catlin test shots, indicative of what Google and other contributors hope to accomplish in their photographic mapping of the reef. Google also plans to incorporate its Panoramio feature, which geolocates photos for Google Earth and Google Maps.
Project chief scientist Prof Ove Hoegh-Guldberg from the Global Change Institute says that "the visual nature of the project will also help bridge the gap between scientific knowledge and public awareness." Adding that, "for the first time in history, scientists will have the technology to broadcast the findings and expedition through Google."