The Great Barrier Reef, as if you were there …



Immersion

Oceanographic Museum of Monaco (1)

How to communicate the sensations of a scuba diver evolving in the Australian Great Barrier Reef? This was the challenge for the organizers of the “Immersion” exhibition, currently presented at the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco (Fondation Albert-Ier). To achieve this, they called on the computer scientist Emmanuel Mâa Berriet and the composer Pierre Caillot. The result is an extremely realistic virtual diving program, and a first in Europe.

The principle ? Reconstruct an optimal authenticity by associating real images, filmed in an underwater camera, and synthetic images, ranging from baby turtles to the monumental humpback whale, including the potato grouper in its cave or the night fight between spiked sharks white. There is also the possibility of interactions between marine animals and the visitor. Thus, on the ground, fish or turtles escape when you walk, or even on the walls, dolphins or calves come towards you and move away if you make a sudden gesture.

A year of work was needed to design the algorithms governing this complex interactivity. And now, even without diving experience, we imagine ourselves in a drysuit, mask and bottle, exploring one of the jewels of the world’s underwater biodiversity. However, the exhibition leaves a bitter taste. Because while technology recreates the beauty of a unique ecosystem for the visitor, it is declining off the coast of Australia, under the effect of global warming. In its report of 2 December, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature thus, for the first time, described the Great Barrier Reef “As presenting a critical perspective”. In fact, coral is one of the natural elements most sensitive to temperature changes and water acidification.

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