Don’t worry, our sharks won’t bite

Caernarfon Herald - - LONDON BEAT -

A TRAV­EL­LING vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence in which Welsh sea crea­tures ap­pear as ul­tra-re­al­is­tic holo­grams has been given £587,600 in Her­itage Lot­tery fund­ing.

Eye-pop­ping aug­mented re­al­ity tech­nol­ogy will be har­nessed by the three­year Liv­ing Seas Wales (LSW) project to bring ma­rine wildlife into cas­tles, ports and other coastal lo­ca­tions.

Due to launch in June, as part of a Wales-wide road­show, it will show high-qual­ity, 7D holo­grams as a way of pro­mot­ing Welsh wildlife ex­pe­ri­ences to vis­i­tors.

Visit Wales is en­cour­ag­ing tourism out­fits to use vir­tual re­al­ity ( VR) to pro­mote Welsh at­trac­tions, and the Wildlife Trusts in Wales have been quick to climb aboard.

Nia Hâf Jones, LSW man­ager for North Wales, said VR was an ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­nity to show­case the coun­try’s ma­rine wildlife.

“It will al­low us to bring our coast and seas to life us­ing in­no­va­tive tech­nol­ogy to “wow” our au­di­ences!” she said.

The LSW project is a joint ini­tia­tive by North Wales Wildlife Trust and The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (WTSWW). It will en­able vis­i­tors and lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties to learn about and con­trib­ute to the con­ser­va­tion of ma­rine en­vi­ron­ments. In the 7D holo­gram dis­plays, five charis­matic ma­rine species will take cen­tre stage, in­clud­ing the grey seal, har­bour por­poise and puf­fin.

Two more will make a splash, quite lit­er­ally.

Gina Gav­i­gan, the project’s mar­ket­ing man­ager, said an eighth di­men­sion will be added to the dis­plays, most of which will be shown in­side a por­ta­ble dome.

“To­wards the end of the show, a thresher shark will leap out at the au­di­ence, which should knock their socks off!” she said.

“We’re also adding wa­ter sprays, so that, when a bot­tlenose dol­phin jumps out of the wa­ter, peo­ple will get wet.”

For some fu­ture dis­plays, the dome may be jet­ti­soned so that the 7D holo­grams can be screened in shop­ping cen­tres, po­ten­tially en­abling sharks and seals to “swim” past shop­pers.

Last year WTSWW re­ceived £30,000 from Visit Wales to cre­ate two VR videos in­volv­ing dol­phins and king­fish­ers.

In a sur­vey, 85% of peo­ple who had seen the videos said they would now visit wildlife at­trac­tions.

VR is get­ting in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar as it be­comes more af­ford­able.

Tourism bosses be­lieve it en­ables peo­ple to in­ter­act with a lo­ca­tion or at­trac­tion they might not oth­er­wise con­sider vis­it­ing.

The LSW project – which co­in­cides with Wales’ Year of the Sea in 2018 – will be launched at the Volvo Ocean Race, Cardiff, on June 7. The 7D holo­grams will be shown at 10 lo­ca­tions in North Wales later in the year.

Dol­phin holo­gram dis­plays will have added wa­ter ef­fects

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