Climate change: The Catlin Seaview Survey is recording how reefs are dealing with changes to the environment. *Photo courtesy of Catlin
Climate change: The Catlin Seaview Survey is recording how reefs are dealing with changes to the environment. *Photo courtesy of Catlin
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FRIDAY, SEP. 28: You can take a virtual dive on the Great Barrier Reef thanks to Bermuda-based reinsurer Catlin.

The Catlin Seaview Survey is a series of scientific expeditions to explore and survey the world’s coral reefs.

Catlin has a major office in Bermuda on Church Street.

The panoramic imagery of the Great Barrier Reef taken during the Survey off the Australian coast will also be available in the Street View feature of Google Maps through a global partnership established by the Catlin Seaview Survey and Google.

Using specially designed technology and the world’s first tablet-operated underwater camera, the Catlin Seaview Survey will capture up to 50,000 high-resolution, 360-degree panoramic images.

When stitched together, these images will allow people to choose a location along the Great Barrier Reef, dip underwater and go for a viewer-controlled virtual dive in Google Maps.

The public will be able to witness the breathtaking imagery at the same time as the Survey collects important scientific data that will give researchers better insights into how climate change could affect coral reefs such as the Great Barrier Reef.

Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, director of the Global Change Institute at The University of Queensland and the Survey’s chief scientist, said in a press release: “It’s incredibly rewarding and exciting to be leading a talented team of scientists as the first Catlin Seaview Survey expedition begins. The possibilities of what we will discover about coral reefs are almost endless. And right now, information on how these endangered ecosystems are responding to climate change is incredibly important, given that almost 25 per cent of marine species live in and around coral reefs.

Arctic

This is the second major scientific project sponsored by Catlin. The Catlin Arctic Survey investigated the potential impacts of climate change on the Arctic, including the loss of floating Arctic sea ice, from 2009 to 2011.

Stephen Catlin, CEO of the Catlin Group Limited, said: “The Catlin Seaview Survey will use new technology to gather important scientific information about coral reefs that has never been previously collected,” explained Stephen Catlin, Chief Executive of Catlin Group Limited.

“Catlin is sponsoring the Survey so that we can better understand the changes that are occurring to our planet.

“We believe that the more we understand about what is happening to the world in which we live, the better we can decide how to insure the risks we will face in the future.

“We have always taken the view at Catlin that we must do things that are socially responsible and that add value to our risk assessment abilities. To be able to sponsor important scientific research like the Catlin Seaview Survey is a fantastic opportunity and privilege,” he said.

Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said all of the scientific data gathered by the Catlin Seaview Survey would be made public in a Global Reef Record database. He added: “The Global Reef Record is a game-changing scientific tool that scientists around the world will have at their fingertips. They will be able to monitor change in marine environments now and in the future. Marine scientists researching any aspect of the reef will be able to study these environments from any of the surveys we conduct.”

Whilst scientists will have access to an unprecedented amount of data regarding coral reefs, the Catlin Seaview Survey will also allow the public to participate using their personal computers, tablets and smart phones.

“We are partnering with the Catlin Seaview Survey to make this amazing imagery available to more than 1 billion monthly users of Google Maps across the world. Together we want to make these special underwater locations as accessible to people as the roads and landmarks they explore in Google Maps each day,” Jenifer Austin Foulkes, manager of Google’s Oceans Programme.

Learn more

Everyone can follow the expedition on www.catlinseaviewsurvey.com. Breathtaking panoramic imagery of the Great Barrier Reef taken during the Survey off the Australian coast will also be available in the Street View feature of Google Maps through a global partnership established by the Catlin Seaview Survey and Google.