As we bob our heads first left then right following the fast-moving shoal of fish, we realise we probably look pretty stupid to any bystanders — but then a shark enters our peripheral vision, and our attention is once again lost to the depths of the Great Barrier Reef.
Ever watched a David Attenborough wildlife documentary and wished you were in it? Now you can be (sort of) at Natural History Museum’s Great Barrier Reef Dive. The virtual reality experience takes you into the watery wonderland via a camera on a submarine. A submarine, which quite handily contains wildlife expert David Attenborough.
The all-encompassing headset and headphones that we’re given completely blank out our surroundings, making it easy to forget that we’re in an auditorium in a museum in London. For the 20 minutes that the show runs, Attenborough’s unmistakable tones talk you through the fish, coral and other creatures swimming past you.
Best of all, the camera used to film the show is a 3D camera — so every time you turn your head left, right, up or down, the camera pans with you, allowing you a 360 degree view of the Great Barrier Reef. It may create the illusion of a nodding dashboard dog, but the effect is a strong one — we found ourselves jumping in surprise when fast moving fish darted about in front of us, and when a shark appeared to our right, we realised we were actually holding our breath as it glided past us.
The experience ties into David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef, a documentary series being broadcast on BBC2 over Christmas.
David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef Dive is at Natural History Museum from 11 December for six weeks. Tickets are £6.50 for adults, with advance booking recommended. While you’re there, why not visit the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition.