South Florida's coral reefs are getting ready for their close-up.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is teaming up with the Catlin Seaview Survey as part of the Australia-based project's ambitious effort to create a photographic record of the world's coral reefs.
As the Sun Sentinel reports:
Government scientists this month used new high-tech cameras to shoot a 360-degree view of the ocean in the Florida Keys. The goal: to map and then track coral reefs to see if restoration efforts are working.
It was the first time the cameras have been used in U.S. waters, although they have documented reefs in the Caribbean and Australia.
Scientists will use the images to quickly assess the health of the reefs, changes in growth patterns and detection of diseases, says Billy Causey, director of NOAA's Southeast Regional Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.
It won't just be all work and no play, though. The maps will eventually be posted online for the general public to see.
"Not all of us are fortunate enough to be snorkelers or scuba divers," says Causey. "This is an educational and outreach tool, unparalleled in underwater photography."
The team will begin photographing the reefs within the next year.
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