Google Maps Extend 'Street View' to World's Coral Reefs

By 2030, 90% of the world’s coral reefs will be threatened by over-fishing, shipping, warming waters and ocean acidification, and Google is applying its groundbreaking "Street View" technology to help reverse that trend.

Google’s World Wonders Project is its latest addition to Google Maps, bringing underwater panoramic images of the world’s six most important coral reefs into "street view." Google wants to expose fragile reef ecosystems to an audience broader than scientists and scuba divers.

Google Maps with Street View lets everyone explore places around the world through 360-degree street-level imagery. "Now, anyone can become the next virtual Jacques Cousteau and dive with sea turtles, fish and manta rays in Australia, the Philippines and Hawaii," says Google.

Viewers will also be able to see the problems. Even though Australia recently set aside a third of its ocean area for the world’s largest network of marine parks, the Great Barrier Reef is endangered by a proposal to transport coal through the area from a mega-coal mine.

Since 1985, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, considered "the best-managed reef in the world," has been cut in half by more frequent storms, warmer seas and invasive starfish colonies stoked by climate change. It could be cut in half again by 2022.

"Gifted young scientists are diving into the field at a much faster pace than they did in the long, slow build-up of climate change research, and learning about CO2’s impact on the seas much faster than we were able to comprehend the changes to our atmosphere," reports OnEarth. "At the same time, their mentors and elders are pounding their heads over what may be an even more elusive challenge: how to communicate their findings to the public, press, and politicians without getting mired in the sort of trumped-up controversies and anti-science attacks that have hindered action on global warming."

Marine scientists need to be able to communicate what’s at stake for the oceans and Google’s coral maps make it harder to refute the evidence.

Coral reefs host 25% of of the world’s marine life and are essential to protecting coastal communities from storms, as well as to tourism, diving and fishing industries.

This video shows how the reefs are mapped:

You can also visit the Amazon and here are the coral reef maps:

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