71 percent of the Earth’s surface…

WorldOceansDay_BlogGraphic_130605June 8 is World Oceans Day, an event sponsored by the United Nations in an effort to make people aware of the importance of the 71 percent of the Earth’s surface that is covered by them.

As the official World Oceans Day website explains: “The ocean regulates the climate, feeds millions of people every year, produces oxygen, is the home to an incredible array of wildlife, provides us with important medicines … (and ensures) the health and safety of our communities and future generations.”

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Search engine, email and assorted Internet services giant Google is doing its part to make sure that we think about how amazing the oceans are, though an ingenious modification of the company’s popular Google Street View feature. This time, though, instead of just being able to look at your cousin Joe’s old house in Poughkeepsie, you can admire underwater photography from more than 40 locations across the planet.  Just go to the Street View Oceans page.

The images were collected by the XL Catlin Seaview Survey, a scientific project whose main mission is creating a baseline record of the world’s coral reefs in high-resolution, 360-degree panoramic vision. It’s hoped that those pictures will enable scientists, policy makers and the public to see the changes that coral reefs are undergoing.

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Over the past 30 years, 40 percent of these critical ecosystems have been lost due to pollution, destructive fishing and climate change. Catlin’s website warns that the destruction of reefs could negatively affect 500 million people globally who rely on coral reefs for food, tourism income and coastal protection.