Catlin Global Reef Record

ScienceShot: Corals, in Panoramic View

Carolyn is a staff writer for Science and is the editor of the In Brief section.

An underwater world is now at your fingertips. Last week, the Catlin Seaview Survey launched the Global Reef Record, a database of high-resolution images of coral reefs that will ultimately include images and data (such as water temperatures and turbidity) from reefs around the world. Funded by international insurer Catlin Group Ltd., the survey uses a specially designed high-resolution camera (shown) that simultaneously takes images in three directions—right, left, and down. So far, the survey—which began in September 2012 and will continue for 2 more years—has recorded images of more than 32 reefs totaling 150 kilometers along Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Next up in 2014: the Pacific Ocean’s coral triangle. The goal is “to reveal the oceans to the world,” says Richard Vevers, an advertising executive-turned-underwater-photographer who helped create the survey, which has partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California. The team began a new effort last week in the deep and shallow reefs around Bermuda, hunting for signs of coral bleaching, a hallmark of coral mortality due to prolonged seawater heating. When it comes to reef data, the new record will be a one-stop shop for images and data, says Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, director of the Brisbane, Australia-based Global Change Institute and chief scientist for the survey. ““It’s what I’m calling the world’s largest stocktaking of corals in history.”

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