Global Reef Record Provides Panoramic Images Of Coral Reefs [VIDEO]

By Josh Lieberman on September 24, 2013 4:58 PM EDT

caitlin reef
The Global Reef Record documents and provides data on coral reefs around the globe. (Photo: YouTube screenshot)

An online photographic database of coral reefs launched this week to act as a survey of the current state of reefs around the globe. The Caitlin Global Reef Record will enable scientists to understand and study changes to coral reefs resulting from over-exploitation, pollution and climate change. In the last 50 years, between one-third and one-half of the world's coral reefs have been lost, according to the sponsor of the project, Catlin Group Limited.

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"Our oceans are in an unprecedented state of decline due to pollution, over-fishing and climate change," said 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."

In late 2012, the Catlin Seaview Survey was launched. Cameras captured over 100,000 360-degree images at 32 locations along the Great Barrier Reef, creating an incredible panorama. The Survey was created in partnership with Google; play around on the site and you'll see that it feels just Google Street View.

Caitlin's latest effort, the Global Reef Record, expands the scope of the Seaview Survey. Its world map function allows users to overlay various data sets onto the map; you can check off the "Current Sea Surface Temperature" box to see just that, or the "Reefs at risk" overlay.

"The dramatic decline of coral reefs has been hidden from the world for too long," said Richard Vevers, Project Director, Catlin Seaview Survey. "Now with the Catlin Global Reef Record this decline will be clearly visible for all to see. We hope it will help scientists to find global solutions and ignite a new level of support for coral reef protection."

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