Public can participate in groundbreaking scientific project via Google
HAMILTON, Bermuda – People around the world are invited to take a virtual dive on the Great Barrier Reef to experience the first groundbreaking expedition of the Catlin Seaview Survey.
The Catlin Seaview Survey, a series of scientific expeditions to explore and survey the world's coral reefs, is sponsored by Catlin Group Limited (‘CGL’; London Stock Exchange), the international specialty property/casualty insurer and reinsurer.
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.
Using specially designed, cutting-edge 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.
Coral reefs are a crucially important feature of the earth’s oceans. Coral reefs act as a risk indicator, providing early warnings of environmental changes occurring across the planet. They also provide an important source of food, livelihoods and shoreline protection for tens of millions of people and businesses around the world. If climate change significantly alters the structure of coral reefs, the impact could be far-reaching globally.
“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 percent of marine species live in and around coral reefs,” said Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Director of the Global Change Institute at The University of Queensland and the Survey’s chief scientist.
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.
“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,” Stephen Catlin said. “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.
“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,” Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said.
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 Program.
Already, 1.4 million people are following the Catlin Seaview Survey on Google+.
The Catlin Seaview Survey will be introduced to a global audience later today at the Blue Ocean Film Festival in Monterey, California. Audiences online globally will be treated to the first Catlin Seaview Survey live night dive via a Google+ Hangout, scheduled for 1830 BST/1330 EST. To access the Google+ Hangout on air, please visit: plus.google.com/+catlinseaviewsurvey or youtube.com/catlinseaviewsurvey.
Catlin Seaview Survey expedition facts
The first Catlin Seaview Survey expedition on the Great Barrier Reef set off on 16th September 2012.
The portion of the survey encompassing the Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Sea runs until the end of December and will visit 20 separate coral reefs along the 2,300-kilometre reef on an unprecedented scale and depth range – including sections of the reef that have never previously been seen or studied.
The Survey will continue in 2013 in selected global locations, including Bermuda, Hawaii and the Philippines.
There are two scientific components to the Catlin Seaview Survey: a Shallow Reef Survey and a Deep Reef Survey:
- The Shallow Reef Survey will involve scientists using state-of-the-art digital technology to capture approximately 50,000 panoramic images of the reef that can be linked to create a virtual dive experience. Each image will be geo-located, with automated technologies for rapidly assessing the amount of coral cover and other life forms from locations at 20 separate coral reefs along the entire length of the Great Barrier Reef. This will provide a broad scale baseline for understanding change on coral reefs.
- Using diving robots and other innovative instrument packages, the Deep Reef Survey will begin to explore deep-water reef systems that are very rarely visited by humans, yet may hold some of the secrets of whether or not coral reefs could survive rapid climate change. Using a combination of HD cameras, deep-diving robots and survey equipment, the deep-water component will provide a comprehensive study of the health composition and biodiversity of the deep-water reefs on the Great Barrier Reef. It will also experimentally assess their susceptibility to increased temperatures and ocean acidification, which are byproducts of a changing climate. It’s entirely probable new species will be discovered in these deeper waters.
How the public can engage with the Catlin Seaview Survey
- Join the 1.4 million people already following the Catlin Seaview Survey on Google+.
- Go to the Catlin Seaview Survey website: www.catlinseaviewsurvey.com
- View the Google Street View Gallery: www.maps.google.com/ocean
- Participate in a programme of live content to be provided by scientists and divers participating in the Catlin Seaview Survey, including Google ‘Hangouts’ and videos. See plus.google.com/+catlinseaviewsurvey for more information.
For more information contact
James Burcke, Head of Communications, London
Tel: +44 (0)20 7458 5710
Mobile: +44 (0)7958 767738
Rod Macrae, Catlin Seaview Survey, UK/Europe
Tel: +44 (0)1491 613715
Mobile: +44 (0)781 402 9819
Robert McEwen, Catlin Seaview Survey, US
Tel: +1 212-633-6301
Mobile: +1 816-916-5238
Anna MacIntosh, Catlin Seaview Survey, Australia
Tel: +61 0411 527 756
William Spurgin, Head of Investor Relations, Catlin Group Limited, London
Tel: +44 (0)20 7458 5726
Mobile: +44 (0)7710 314 365
Notes to editors
- High-resolution colour photographs taken by the Catlin Seaview Survey are available on request.
- Catlin Group Limited, headquartered in Bermuda, is an international specialist property/casualty insurer and reinsurer writing more than 30 classes of business worldwide through six underwriting hubs. Gross premiums written in 2011 amounted to US$4.5 billion.
- Catlin has established operating hubs in London, Bermuda, the United States, the Asia-Pacific region, Europe and Canada. Through these hubs, Catlin works closely with policyholders and their brokers. The hubs also provide Catlin with product and geographic diversity. Altogether, Catlin operates more than 55 offices in 21 countries.
- Catlin's underwriting units are rated 'A' by A.M. Best and Standard & Poor's.
- Catlin shares are traded on the London Stock Exchange (ticker symbol: CGL). More information about Catlin can be found at www.catlin.com.
- The Global Change Institute at The University of Queensland, Australia, in collaboration with private and public sector partners, is an independent source of high-impact, game-changing science. The Global Change Institute seeks to advance scientific discovery and identify solutions for meeting the challenges presented by climate change, population change and technological innovation. The Global Change Institute is the science partner of the Catlin Seaview Survey.