Dry Dive at the Great Barrier Reef
Have you ever been to the Great Barrier Reef? What do you suppose it would be like to dive amidst the world’s largest colony of living organisms?
Imagine for a minute that you’re diving off the coast of Queensland, Australia. After having passed around 900 islands on your way to the dive site, you jump in the crisp, clear water with your scuba gear and find yourself surrounded by thousands of individual reefs – each of which is composed of and built by billions of tiny organisms called coral polyps. What would you see, feel, or hear?
I was there myself actually, on my 14th birthday – a birthday I’ll never forget. I’m one of the lucky few who has been able to dive at the reef and explore its majesty from beneath the waves. Green sea turtles, seals, sharks and rays were only a handful of the animals I encountered besides the thousands of colorful fish species. But this post isn’t about me…
Most people who venture out to explore the reef don wetsuits, scuba gear, and additional equipment for the journey, as I did. But as concerns rise about the toll this kind of hands-on tourism is taking on the health of the reef and the ecosystem as a whole, alternatives are being developed to allow tourists and researchers to explore and gather data about the reef without actually being there…
I recently discovered a website that allows anyone to explore the Great Barrier Reef, hosted by one of my heroes, David Attenborough. Follow David Attenborough as he leads you beneath the surface of the ocean on an interactive journey through the Great Barrier Reef, Australia’s greatest natural wonder. Meet the wildlife that call the reef home and learn about the reef’s natural history, environmental threats, and ways to protect it.
And when you’re done with your journey, if that’s not enough, here’s more:
The QUT project – Monitoring Through Many Eyes, is currently being developed to allow people to experience the reef in virtual reality. Instead of putting on full scuba gear, viewers simply put on virtual reality goggles and begin exploring the reef from wherever they happen to be. While this is obviously not as immersive as diving at the reef in person, it will allow a greater number of individuals to explore the diversity and beauty of the Great Barrier Reef, while protecting it from further damage. The project will soon be part of a larger online initiative and if it takes hold, could bring the Great Barrier Reef along with countless opportunities for exploration and research into the homes of anyone around the world.
On par with this, Google has launched Google Underwater Street View in 3D of the Great Barrier Reef, where you can explore and learn about the reef from Google Maps.
I’ll be keeping an eye out for new information about these projects and others, and will update this post when I find them. Stay tuned!
In the meantime, why not explore with David Attenborough?