Google Builds Underwater Street View

By Wendy Laursen 2015-06-08 20:36:03

The oceans are one of the most uncharted ecosystems on the planet, but Google is working to change this. 

Google, in partnership with XL Catlin Seaview Survey, NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the Chagos Conservation Trust, has released new underwater Street View imagery of more than 40 locations around the world including the American Samoa and Chagos Islands and underwater dives in Bali, the Bahamas and the Great Barrier Reef.

ScienceAlert notes some highlights including views of a humpback whale, a great white shark and a sunfish.

“Mapping the ocean is key to preserving it,” says Jenifer Austin and Brian Sullivan of the Google Ocean Program. “Each image in Google Maps is a GPS-located digital record of these underwater and coastal environments, which can be used as a baseline to monitor change over time.”

Underwater Library

Project partner XL Catlin Seaview Survey started work on a visual underwater library back in 2012. The world’s reefs are in a dramatic state of decline with over 40 percent of corals over the last 30 years due to pollution, destructive fishing and climate change, says the group. According to the scientific community the decline is set to continue and will affect 500 million people globally who rely on coral reefs for food, tourism income and coastal protection.

In response the Survey is creating a baseline record of the world’s coral reefs in high-resolution 360-degree panoramic vision. The initiative aims to enable change to be clearly monitored over time to help scientists, policy makers and the public to see and understand the issues.

Fisheries

In addition to underwater and coastal Street View imagery, Global Fishing Watch, developed in partnership with nonprofits SkyTruth and Oceana, is producing the first public and interactive view of industrial fishing at a global scale. Global Fishing Watch aims to empower governments, industry, scientists and the public to be better informed about sustainable practices and management policies.

Knowledge Store

Google is also creating the largest store of knowledge in human history. To date the Knowledge Vault contains over 1.6 billion facts, reports New Scientist. This information will be used by search engines, smartphones and robotic intelligence. Google is racing Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon and IBM who are all attempting to build the same kind of database.