The camera is able to travel at 2.5mph while snapping 4-6 pictures of its surroundings a second

Photo courtesy of Caitlin Sea Survey

Google Streetview coming to the Florida Keys Reefs this weekend

by Justin Hester

Google street view has given us an unprecedented views of city streets all around the world and now they are giving that same view to us in HD for many of the worlds reefs.  We first reported on this a few years back when Google had partnered with Caitlin Sea Survey to map out the underwater world of the great barrier reef in Australia.  Starting this weekend August 16th, they will be turning their submersible camera on the reefs of the Florida keys.

Caitlin Sea Survey Project

For the past few years, Google has been partnered with Caitlin Sea Survey in an effort to map the worlds’ reefs.  The gear they use to do this is the SVII which essentially is a 140lb torpedo shaped version of Google’s popular Street View Camera that is able to take 360 degree images and tie those images to their GPS location.  These  geo-located panoramic images are taken every 4-6 seconds while traveling at a speed of 2.5 mph. Essentially, this is how they are able to build a map of the undersea environment with all of its details.

The first 300 ft of ocean of ocean contains over 90% of the marine organisms that live there so the results of this expedition should create some unique images.  Perhaps we will see the SeaView II capture some animals off guard or  doing unique things like we have seen the Google Street View vehicles do.

Catlin is mapping the worlds' reefs with google streetview like images

Out of Sight Out of Mind

This will be the first time the camera is being used on US soil which will be exciting to see.  Caitlin a Bermuda based Insurance company has also partnered with NOAA on this US survey and it seems like there will be some teaching involved for a few NOAA scientists who may be able to deploy some of the Caitlin camera’s in other marine environments around the US.  Having this visual data on other marine environments would be a great way for us to not only witness changes, but would also serve as an amazing way for us to share what these environments look like with school children and others around the world.

Unfortunately, the only view many people have had of the Florida Keys reefs has been from a car window, gazing at the turquoise blue water as they hop from one Key to another over the network of bridges.  Its impossible to know the complex marine wonderland that exists below that blue water unless you actually get out there and see it.  This could be an important first step to bringing the wonder and beauty of the Florida Keys to a desktop near you!