Google Earth, Google's virtual globe and geographical information program, is offering a "virtual dive" off The Great Barrier Reef for Internet users.
From today, one can dive into parts of the World Heritage-listed marine park from their PC desk, thanks to a team of scientists who have created a specially designed underwater camera capable of capturing 360-degree images of the Reef.
AdvertisementProject Founder and Director Richard Vevers said the images would open up the reef to the world.
"99.95 per cent of people can't scuba dive, it allows so many people to access the oceans for the very first time," the Daily Telegraph quoted Vevers, as saying.
According to the paper, the project to map the reef is part of the Catlin Seaview Survey that was launched at Monterey, California (USA).
Vevers said that scientists will spend the next three years compiling a visual record of the world's reefs that will be explorable by everyone via Google Maps.
"We have a team in the Coral Sea at the moment doing three 2km surveys a day," he said.
"It's very much a critical time for reefs and we want to cover as much as we can in the next two to three years to create a global record," he added.
The project will survey shallow sections of the reef up to 30m and will also use diving robots to explore never-seen-before areas up to 100m below the surface, the paper said.