Under the Sea

“Water and air, the two essential fluids
on which all life depends,
have become global garbage cans.”
Jacques Yves Cousteau

Researchers are creating images of coral reefs along the lush and steep windward coast of the Hawaii island of Oahu.

Why? Because the coral reefs are in danger of dying due to the ever-increasing temperatures of the ocean waters.

These high-definition 360-degree panoramic images of the reefs are being used to monitor and study the health of corals over time. Scientists are concerned about how much coral off the coast of Hawaii already is beginning to bleach, especially because it’s the second such event in two years.

Coral bleaching occurs when ocean water temperatures rise and cause the coral to lose key nutrients, turning the normally colorful organism white. If bleaching recurs or is severe, the coral will eventually die.

The researchers use GPS tags and facial recognition technology to help identify and organize individual reef systems. As part of the project, the survey team has partnered with Google and uploads the images to Google Street View, allowing people to explore the underwater ecosystem via the Internet.

The Hawaii reef mapping is part of a larger project by the XL Catlin Seaview Survey research team to make thousands of images of reef around the world. These researchers are trying to understand why certain species of coral are more susceptible to bleaching than others, and they hope to find organisms that can adapt to warmer waters and remain healthy.

If you want to learn more about what’s happening to our oceans, check out Global Reef Record and explore a whole new world, under the sea.

Shine On