Virtual diving in the high seas, the new attraction of Nausicaa

A deep sea dive without mask or snorkel. Became the largest aquarium in Europe Four years ago, Nausicaa continues to innovate. The national center of the sea presented, this Tuesday, its new immersive experience in Boulogne-sur-Mer, in Pas-de-Calais: an encounter in augmented reality with the gigantic animals that inhabit the seas.

Wearing a helmet and wearing glasses, the visitor will be able to enter the world of Big wide, the name of this attraction which will be accessible to the general public from Saturday 4 June*. The scene lasts ten minutes during which the bay of the giant aquarium fills with new occupants, as if by magic.

Technological prowess

A leatherback turtle comes out of nowhere to eat a giant jellyfish. A sailfish crosses the space in a flash, while northern gannets perforate the ceiling to hunt sardines. So many species that cross paths and rock the eyes of the spectators, embodying a real technological prowess.

“It was impossible to bring all these species together in our aquarium, so we chose to bring them to life in augmented reality. It’s a rare opportunity to meet these incredible species that are impossible to approach in the natural environment,” underlines Christophe Sirugue, director of Nausicaa. The operation required six months of development and cost nearly one million euros.

Preservation and management of the high seas

“It’s not about using technology for technology’s sake but with the aim of protecting, through education and emotion, the oceans and endangered species,” he adds. In 2022, the preservation and management of the high seas are major societal challenges, as shown by the holding of the One Ocean Summit in February and the next United Nations conference on the oceans which will take place in Lisbon at the end of June.

“Nausicaa has been involved in this work of recognition of the crucial role of the oceans for more than 30 years,” recalls Christophe Sirugue. We remember that the center of the sea had been the target of violent attacks of a complaint, finally dismissed, from the association for the protection of nature, Sea Shepherd, in 2019. In question, the death of 30 hammerhead sharks which had become the No. 1 attraction of the new giant aquarium. At least, with marine animals in augmented reality, this kind of controversy will no longer occur.

* Reservation at the entrance of the site. Recommended for ages 8 and up. Attraction included in the price of the entrance ticket.

The augmented reality of the Saola studio

Founded in 2020 in Paris, the Saola studio made a name for itself with its first creation called relive, for the Natural History Museum. It was the same type of immersion in augmented reality to bring extinct animals back to life. “The difference with virtual reality is that the universe is not entirely fictional,” explains Florent Gilard, one of the founders of Saola. The augmented reality images are based on an already existing decor in which they will be embedded. »

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Virtual diving in the high seas, the new attraction of Nausicaa


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