Featured Image Credit: Attractions Magazine
By Laura O’Brien
National Geographic has created an amazing undersea world in Times Square, and it could mean a dawning of a new age for marine conservation. It is designed to immerse “aquarium”-goers, into the depths of the ocean; revealing sea-life and phenomena that most people never get to see.
The exhibit, Ocean Odyssey, is interactive and entirely simulated. This allows visitors to get up-close and personal with a variety of creatures without the necessity for actual animals to be present. Never before has technology allowed for such an exhibit to exist. Award-winning artists have collaborated to make stunning “photo-real” versions of undersea creatures, and an award-winning composer has created the sounds of the experience using hundreds of underwater sounds.
The experience is beyond unique for visitors, and maintenance of the exhibit is far different than that of an aquarium. There is no need to condition massive amounts of water or expend energy keeping tanks at appropriate temperatures; which is yet another reason that we may see a shift in the type of marine exhibits that our future holds. The work that many aquariums do in their conservation efforts is extremely important, and could not be replaced by a simulated immersive exhibit, but simulated exhibits could change the way that people around the world learn about the ocean and its inhabitants.
Many aquariums have tanks and enclosures for animals that they utilize to rehabilitate animals, often due to injuries and illnesses that are a result of human activity. These rescue and rehabilitation programs are vital to maintain our oceans and conserve wildlife, and they cannot be simulated. However, animals who are bred, raised, and live their lives in captivity tend to show signs of mental duress. So many animal rights groups are hoping that the wonderous exhibit that National Geographic has created will encourage aquariums to change some of their exhibits to interactive simulated exhibits instead of breeding animals into captivity for reasons other than conservation.
Aquariums and the immersive entertainment experience which National Geographic has created serve a vital role in society. They create a learning environment where people of all ages can come and experience what they are learning about and help solidify their commitment to protecting the oceans and marine life.
27% of the proceeds from Ocean Odyssey go into the non-profit National Geographic Society, which dedicated to “exploring, understanding and protecting our ocean through scientific grants and programs” according to the Ocean Odyssey page on National Geographic’s website. Conservationists, as well as animal and ocean lovers, will enjoy losing themselves in Ocean Odyssey, National Geographic’s immersive entertainment experience. Only time will tell if it sparks cool new changes in the aquarium game!
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