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Trove of video, photos of California seabed available online

August 09, 2013|By Bettina Boxall
  • Surfers leave the water at Cardiff State Beach.
Surfers leave the water at Cardiff State Beach. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)

If you ever wondered what the ocean floor looks like off the California coast, there are now 87,000 photos and more than 500 hours of video available for online viewing.

Collected by the U.S. Geological Survey as part of an ambitious program to map near-shore state waters, the photographs and video show selected areas of the seabed extending the entire length of the state. The images were taken by cameras towed 3 feet above the ocean floor to aid the interpretation of sonar data.

State and federal agencies, universities and private companies participating in the California Seafloor Mapping Program are amassing sonar, seismic, bottom sediment and other data to create a comprehensive map series showing seafloor depth, habitats and geology.
 
“With the new maps, decision makers and elected officials can better design and monitor marine reserves, evaluate ocean energy potential, understand ecosystem dynamics, recognize earthquake and tsunami hazards, regulate offshore development, and improve maritime safety,” the USGS said Friday as it released the photos and two other data sets.

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