In 2000, an underwater ReefCam was installed in Bonaire, an island in the Netherland Antilles. According to the Bonaire webcam site, as of 2005 the ReefCam has been the longest running open-water (and underwater) webcam.
Here is the account of the process from the site:
“The planning of the Bonaire WebCams project started during the summer of 1999, when Dan Senie and Jake Richter, long time friends and graduates of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute were talking about the new leased line Internet connection Dan had just helped Jake install in his office on the Caribbean island of Bonaire. The idea came about as a result of Dan wanting to relive his visits to Bonaire, combined with the great weather and excellent diving Bonaire is known for.
Dan and Jake concluded that a WebCam would be the best way to tame Bonaire-envy, but that a typical WebCam installation, where you have a single, low-resolution camera mounted inside a window, was not the way to go. Putting their know how together with their diving experience (Jake is a certified dive instructor and Dan an avid advanced diver), they set about trying to design a system which could be installed above the reef slope behind Jake’s office/house, in open water.”
Interesting here is that the cams are installed in order to generate a sort of tele-presence, to quell “Bonaire-envy.” And they are approved because of the benefits to tourism. Who watches these cams? What sort of media practices are these images used in (e.g. postings in Bonaire Talk; or the ReefCam Critter Gallery).
More info on the project history page.