Don’t worry, our sharks won’t bite
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