The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History is gearing up to host a free augmented reality experience highlighting the connection between people, orcas and the ocean, starting September 29. Titled the “Critical Distance,” the experience takes the visitors in a holographic orca pod to help them witness the endangered species’ daily obstacles.
“Marine animals face unique challenges today and humans are responsible for many, if not most, of those challenges,” stated John Ososky, collections manager of marine mammals at the museum. “It’s time for us to recognize our connection to these animals and the ocean at large. Doing so is the first step for effective marine conservation and management.”
The experience has been produced by Vision3, Vulcan Productions, and Microsoft and penned by Amy Zimmerman. The experience will take you through the survival journey of 24 endangered southern resident orcas in the Pacific Ocean’s Salish Sea. Visitors can witness the orcas’ struggles with marine noise pollution and vessel disturbances in their quest to hunt for food and survive.
The museum has also created several additional activities to further educate the visitors about southern resident orcas’ family structure, conservation and biology. They include an echolocation game and a spinning whale wheel that highlights the relationships between the orcas, humans and the Salish Sea ecosystem. Visitors can also leave their mark during the experience by participating in a growing string art installation that reflects humanity’s connection to the ocean.
“Critical Distance” made its first appearance at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year where it was amongst the five projects nominated for this year’s Immersive Storyscapes award. The project will be hosted at the museum for nine months ahead.
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