Live cameras connected to the Web can be either incredibly fascinating or amazingly dull. What do you think of a Web cam aimed at a blank wall? Or inside a refrigerator, aimed at the door? Bypassing the absurd, I've assembled a virtual aquarium trip, visiting whales, sharks, a kelp forest and a coral bed. All these images are live and some are only visible during daylight hours, so I've noted the time zone of each site.
The Fisheye View Cam, from Coral Gables, Florida, is used by marine biologists to study coral behaviors. The cam captures a picture of the 125-gallon tank every three seconds. To better understand these unusual slow-moving marine animals, the scientists are creating time-lapse motion studies by viewing the frames at 100 to 1,000 times normal speed. If you have a very fast Net connection or are very patient, you can view these movies in either QuickTime or MPEG format. (E.S.T.)
This live image from the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Kelp Forest exhibit is updated every three minutes. The sunlight streaming in the open roof helps the kelp grow, and changes the look of the tank throughout the day. Natural currents are simulated by pumps pushing more than four thousand gallons of seawater a minute through jets. In addition, a special wave machine creates the natural-looking sway of the kelp. Like the wild kelp forests, the kelp grows in spring, and dies back in winter. (P.S.T.)