Google Maps took its Street View below the sea a few years back mapping the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and now the technology is coming to Florida’s reefs as US scientists are learning to use specialized fisheye lenses underwater in the Florida Keys this week in hopes of applying “street view” mapping to research and management plans in marine sanctuaries nationwide.
The initial images should be available starting this week and add some scale and details to show the successes and failures or restoration projects in the local reefs. The team in charge of the project will also help study the effects of warming ocean temperatures, pollution and hurricanes on reefs.
How they capture the images is equally as impressive as the end result. Using the same camera mounted to cars for the Street View images, the basketball-sized triple-lens SVII cameras are taken through the reefs tethered to divers and propelled by small motors. In each hour-long dive, the camera can capture 20 times more images that traditional underwater photo equipment along with GPS data to be able to stitch together the 360-degree views.
The cameras and training in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary for six NOAA officials is funded through a partnership with the Catlin Seaview Survey.
[via Yahoo! Travel]