The Catlin Seaview Survey has set its camera lenses on Florida’s coral reefs and no one is more happier than renowned oceanographer Sylvia Earle, who has watched many of the world’s coral reefs decline over the last 30 years due to such factors as global warming, ocean acidification, and urban and agricultural runoff. In an interview with CBS News, Earle noted that man has invested in mapping Mars, Jupiter, the Moon, and the universe but has failed to map the ocean, which is right here on Earth. The Catlin Seaview Survey has been doing just that since 2012 when the Great Barrier Reef was surveyed, and she is all the more pleased that Florida’s reefs will be surveyed.
”Right now it’s like the ocean is too big to fail. Right? Well no, it is failing,” Earle said. It’s up to us now. Armed with knowledge.”
That knowledge is coming from the Catlin Seaview Survey’s camera system, which is comprised of a a remote operated vehicle housed with a pair of custom cameras that capture the reef in 360 degree panoramas. The camera is controlled by a diver, who for the most part, guides the ROV as it moves about the reef.
Catlin Seaview Survey panorama image. Image by Catlin Seaview Survey/Wikipedia
The project lead on the Florida image collection, Richard Vevers, told CBS News that the system can capture 1000 images during a 2 kilometer dive with full 360 degree data in less time than was typical with a diver and a traditional camera. That data will be analyzed in an effort to rehabilitate Florida’s coral reefs.
The Catlin Global Reef Record is working with the best scientific collaborators in the field of coral reef research and will incorporate their data and research methods into the record. They include the University of Queensland – Global Change Institute (GCI), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) which is incorporating its own Coral Reef Watch data into the record, the World Resources Institute, which will build its data and findings from its “Reefs at Risk” reports into the record; and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego scientist, David Kline is working to bring semi-automated image recognition software to help the researchers analyse the record’s photographs to help determine the percent coverage of benthic organisms such as corals, algae, and other invertebrates.