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Wednesday November 26th 2014

Calling all armchair scuba divers ‘virtual diving’ is on its way

Underwater landscape taken by the Catlin Seaview Survey, UK. Photograph: Catlin Seaview Survey

Armchair scuba divers across the world and marine conservationists will soon be able to immerse themselves in the most spectacular survey of the Great Barrier Reef ever undertaken, thanks to a new research project unveiled by Google and its partners on Thursday.

Tens of thousands of 360-degree, high-definition panoramas of underwater forests, grasslands and crags will be taken by robot cameras, mapped and made available on the internet as a result of the collaboration, which will seek help from a global audience to assess the health and composition of the 2,300km-long reef.

The scientists and conservationists behind the Catlin Seaview Survey hope the attraction of “virtual diving” will also raise awareness about climate change, coral bleaching, deepwater ecology and the breeding habits of invertebrates that may only be able to spawn once a month by the light of the full moon.

The survey, which is sponsored by the UK-based insurance company Catlin and backed by NGOs, research institutes and the University of Queensland, was unveiled at the World Ocean Summit in Singapore.

Read more: The Guardian

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