Half of the world’s coral reefs have been destroyed over the past three decades, according to a recent Catlin Seaview Survey (CSS). In a race to document their decline, the CSS teamed up with Google Street View and scientists from across the globe to compile the Catlin Global Reef Record – a free online resource launched today that is comprised of more than 100,000 high resolution images of the disappearing seascape.

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Due to the impacts of climate change, pollution, and habitat destruction, coral reefs are facing a worldwide state of emergency. While numbers and figures may seem abstract to those not in the field, images have the power to stir the public to action. The CSS hopes that the survey will allow both scientists and the general populace to find a solution to preserve what’s left of these vital ecosystems.

The CSS gathered their images with the help of a high resolution, tablet-operated underwater camera. Thousands of images were taken with 360-degree panoramic equipment and later stitched together to form a continuous view. Visitors to the Catlin Global Reef Record are able to pick sites in locations such as the Great Barrier Reef and take a virtual dive through Google Maps. In addition to the pictures, the site also provides downloadable files of research reports, data and image analysis, and bleaching and temperature alerts.

The CSS has continued its partnership with NOAA, The University of Queensland, World Resources Institute, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Via Daily Mail