Today, on World Oceans Day 2014, we are proud to launch a new collection of underwater imagery with our founding partners Catlin Group Limited, The Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland and Google. The collection highlights marine sites around the world that have been recognised by UNESCO as being of critical importance - they are the World Heritage Marine Sites.
Since the Catlin Seaview Survey launched in 2012 our teams have collected data in 19 countries and have captured around 350,000 panoramas (that's well over 1 million images so far!). In this period we have surveyed 5 ecosystems that fall under World Heritage status. We've worked with UNESCO to identify why these particular areas are so special, learn more about them now before you take a virtual dive in Google Maps.
Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1993, it lies in the middle of the Sulu Sea and is one of the Philippines’ oldest ecosystems. The region contains excellent examples of pristine reef with an incredibly high diversity of marine life. The area supports 374 species of corals, (that's almost 90% of all coral species in the Philippines!). The area also supports 11 species of cetaceans, 11 species of sharks, and an estimated 479 species of fish. This image collect focuses on the North Atoll and was completed by the Catlin Seaview Survey. Dive in here.
On the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1981 the Great Barrier Reef is an icon of the natural world. The area contains the world’s largest collection of coral reefs, with 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 types of mollusc. It also holds great scientific interest as the habitat of threatened species such as the dugong (‘sea cow’) and the large green turtle. This collection focuses on the reef around Heron Island, walk in from the shore, explore the reef and keep an eye out for some green turtles. Image collect by Catlin Seaview Survey. Experience the Great Barrier Reef here.
Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1978 and situated in the Pacific Ocean some 1,000 km from the South American continent, these 19 islands and the surrounding marine reserve are referred to as a unique ‘living museum and showcase of evolution’. Located at the confluence of three ocean currents, the Galápagos are a ‘melting pot’ of marine species; this dive features the playful Galapagos sea lions by Isla Champion (Champion Island). Image collect by Catlin Seaview Survey. Swim with a Sea lion here.
Sian Ka'an is a biosphere reserve which extends from the east coast of Mexico out into the Caribbean Sea. Home to some 80 recorded species of reef-building corals, the portion of the Mesoamerican Reef within the reserve is one of the most bio-diverse in Mexico. Jointly with neighbouring aquatic habitats it harbours more than 400 species of fish and a wealth of other marine life. For this reason it was named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Image collect by Catlin Seaview Survey. Dive Sian Ka'an here.
The largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere, UNESCO added this site to the World Heritage in danger list in 2009. The system illustrates a classic example of reef types through fringing, barrier and atoll, and the regions seven sites provide a significant habitat for threatened species. This particular dive features Half Moon Cay, at the southern end of Lighthouse Reef Atoll. Image collect by Catlin Seaview Survey. Experience Belize here.
As with all of our work, the data collected in these regions will be made publicly available via the Catlin Global Reef Record.