- Google Maps Goes Underwater
- Nunavut Scientists to Tag Greenland Sharks
- Underwater Sculptor Brings Suburbia to Marine Life
Whether you can’t or won’t ever go SCUBA diving, the beauty of coral reefs can now be right at your fingertips with Google’s new underwater mapping project, currently recording the Great Barrier Reef. The project is part of a three-year survey that will see several of the world’s coral reefs mapped by Google, using a specially-designed camera that captures 360 degree images of the reefs, as well as robots that will explore and record areas below 100 meters. A team of scientists has already mapped 3 large sections of the 1,400-mile long reef, with 20 sections expected to be completed by the end of December. The mapping will be hugely instrumental in monitoring reef health over time, as scientists can now pinpoint specific GPS locations and observe changes, as well as aid in new species discovery. The reefs of the Philippines and the Hawaiian Islands are slated to follow in the next three years.
Known also as the sleeper shark, the Greenland shark is a species little-known to science, primarily due to the extremely deep and frigid waters of the Arctic that it calls home. However, a team of scientists from the Canadian territory Nunavut are currently hunting for the elusive animal, hoping to tag several in order to help protect them from developing fisheries. Greenland sharks have been tagged in other areas throughout the region, but a growing commercial fishery for turbot, a kind of flatfish that is typically acquired through trawling, poses a threat to populations around Nunavut.
Jason deCaires Taylor, the accomplished artist behind the world’s underwater sculpture museum in the Caribbean, has recently unveiled his latest addition to the park: suburban homes with a view. Resembling modern-day houses, the architecture of each sculpture is designed to attract specific types of marine life. Flat, level areas are perfect for stubby-legged crustaceans, small “window” holes allow fish to swim freely while keeping predators out, a chimney tube accommodates eels, and a textured roof provides an ideal foundation for corals to settle and grow. The sculptures are created with pH-balanced concrete that stimulates coral growth, and placed carefully with the expertise of marine biologists to ensure natural reefs are not harmed. The new sculptures can be viewed in Cancun’s underwater sculpture museum off the coast of Isla de Mujeres, Mexico.