Herron Island - Great Barier Reef (Google)
McLean, VA (written by Dan Vergano/USA Today) -- Underwater exploration just got easier. A tour of some of the world's great coral reefs is coming to the Street Views feature on Google Maps.
Using cutting-edge seafloor mapping cameras, the Catlin Seaview Survey has joined with Google Maps to show off Australia's Great Barrier Reef and other important coral sites on the handy street-view mapping site.
"Underwater is a little different than walking down the street," says Jenifer Foulkes of Google's Ocean Program, which aims to provide people with a view of coral reefs they can steer around as simply as a street map online.
Survey scientists built their own version of an underwater mapping camera, steered by divers tied to global positioning satellite buoys, for the efforts, says project director Richard Vevers of the Catlin Seaview Survey. He hopes that people seeing the views will become more aware of the threatened state of the world's oceans, heavily impacted by over-fishing.
The survey images unveiled in the new effort include views from Great Barrier Reef, Hawaii and the Philippines. In later efforts, the science team hopes to target deeper coral reefs, Vevers says.