If you can’t take a vacation to an exotic locale to snorkel or scuba dive among some of the world’s most beautiful and diverse coral reefs, the next best thing is to immerse yourself virtually in a series of high-resolution panoramic images. A project called the Catlin Global Reef Record captures coral reefs around the world, offering images and scientific data that can help scientists understand the changes that are taking place in these marine environments.
The Global Reef Record is the first of its kind, a database and online standardized research tool that could aid in scientific consensus on the physical and chemical changes of oceans associated with the rise of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, ahead of the upcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The project has already captured dozens of reefs in the Caribbean and Australia, including the famed Great Barrier Reef, with many more in progress and planned for the future. “Our oceans are in an unprecedented state of decline due to pollution, over-fishing and climate change, said Prof. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, director of the Global Change Institute at The University of Queensland, and Chief Scientist of the Catlin Global Reef Record. “The data archive provided by the Catlin Global Reef Record and its partners will empower countries with information and analysis of the coral reef ecosystems at scales never before imagined so we can better protect these beautiful and important places before they disappear.”
As crucial as this research may be for scientists, it’s also fun for the rest of us who just like to explore the natural wonders of the world through the magic of the internet. Check out the panoramic images here, and additional stunning videos and images at the Catlin Seaview Survey website.