QUEENSLAND, Australia, June 5, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- For the first time ever, audiences from around the world will get a rare, live view of the wonders and marine life of Australia's Great Barrier Reef from a team of divers lead by leading marine biologist and documentary maker Richard Fitzpatrick - and a rotating panel of reef experts from around the world.

Reef Live is a joint venture involving Tourism and Events Queensland and Catlin Seaview Survey, and will take place on Friday, June 7 from 10 am (AEST/ 8 pm EDT on Thursday, June 6) and conclude at 10 pm (AEST local time/8 am EDT on Friday, June 7). The timing coincides with the celebration of World Oceans Day on June 8, which highlights the imperative to protect the world's oceans and underwater life.

This innovative, live digital broadcast event will take people across the globe on a guided underwater tour of one of the unique natural wonders of the world – Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

This event will stream live as a Google Hangout through www.youtube.com/queensland and will allow world-wide audiences to post questions via Twitter hashtag #REEFLIVE to divers at the underwater 'Sea Studio' and to an expert panel who will link in from around the world.

Fitzpatrick and his team have extensive experience in providing underwater content that is both educational and entertaining, including his Emmy-award winning cinematography in the National Geographic series, Great Migrations as well as the BBC series, Great Barrier Reef. He will be joined by expert divers including Professor Jamie Seymour from James Cook University's Reef Research Unit and Dr Dave Wachenfeld from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

Facilitating panel discussions between the world's leading marine experts on a range of topics will be Steve Liebmann, an acclaimed Australian broadcaster and passionate advocate for Australia and the Great Barrier Reef.

The Reef Live project is an outgrowth of the 2012 launch of Catlin Seaview Survey – Google's Underwater Earth concept. This game-changing scientific study, which reveals the life and science of the world's oceans using high-resolution, 360-degree panoramic vision, allows the public to experience unprecedented accessibility to underwater life through 'virtual diving'.
Since its launch, estimated by Google to have reached 1.5 billion people, the Catlin Seaview Survey continues to engage audiences around the world through their Google+ profile, which has a following of 2.4 million people.

"We are really excited that through new technology and social media, we are able to truly share the wonders of the reef with the world," Tourism and Events Queensland International Director for the Americas, Kerri Anderson said.

"Queensland, Australia is home to the Great Barrier Reef and welcomes millions of visitors every year who come to experience its beauty firsthand, but for the many millions more who can't come here just yet, we believe this is an exciting new way to learn about the reef."

As one of the seven natural wonders of the world and the world's largest coral reef system, the Great Barrier Reef is composed of nearly 3,000 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching out more than 1,600 miles. It is the world's biggest structure made from living organisms and can be seen from outer space.

NOTE TO EDITORS: VNR will also be available. Contact Debra Kelman Loew; debra@robertsonsolutions.com or 917.612.2325 for additional information.

CONTACT: Debra Kelman Loew debra@robertsonsolutions.com (917) 612-2325Source: Tourism Queensland