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USA – A bird’s-eye view of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is now possible, thanks to innovative online mapping technology officially launched on Wednesday 1 October.

This is the first time maps of the Marine Park are available through online mapping service Google Maps, enabling internet users worldwide to dive deeper into this great natural icon with just the click of a button.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Chairman Russell Reichelt welcomed the addition of the new map data and satellite imagery of the world’s largest coral reef system to Google Maps.

‘The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park belongs to all of us and this is a fantastic opportunity for all Australians and people from around the world to see this natural treasure like never before,’ he said.

‘This is a great example how technology can be used to educate people about the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and why this area is special and should be protected.

‘It also allows other marine planners and managers to study aspects of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which is widely recognised as one of the best managed and healthiest coral reef ecosystems in the world.’

The move coincides with International Year of the Reef, a worldwide campaign in 2008 to raise awareness about the importance of coral reefs and to motivate people to take action to protect them.

The new technology enables internet users to search for and locate islands, reefs, cays and rocks in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park online.

The information can also be used by people planning holidays, researchers and divers scoping dives and distances in advance, and educators teaching students about Reef geography.

The inclusion of Marine Park map layers was made possible by a close collaboration between Google Maps and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

‘The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is one of the world’s greatest geographical treasures and we are thrilled to share it with people worldwide who use Google Maps,’ said Raul Vera, Head of Geo Products, Google Australia.

‘Adding the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park to Google Maps is in keeping with our goal to provide innovative ways for people to learn about and explore the world around them.’

Online maps of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park are available at https://maps.google.com.au

Using features of Google Maps, Australians can create personalised My Maps of their experiences in the Marine Park. This enables people to share photos, videos and stories with friends, family or the world.

Third-party web developers can also create Mapplets to add new features or overlay their data on the reef system.