The Save Our Seas Shark Education Centre’s newest exhibit is live and enables visitors to experience the marine realm from a shark’s point of view. Eleanor Yeld Hutchings explains what went into the creation of the world’s first Shark Senses VR exhibit.
There is an air of extreme concentration in the newly opened ‘Shark Central’ exhibit room in the Shark Education Centre. Silence – broken only by the sounds coming from the 3D model of a shark’s head that, with lights flashing, is mounted above a table. Someone is seated behind the table, their face inside the shark’s head. Standing around the game, a group of spectators follows its progress through the series of lights shining on the table’s surface.
The game issues instructions: ‘You are several kilometres away and can hear your prey. Follow the direction of the sound.’
‘Bubble, bubble, bubble… Splish!
Bubble, bubble… Splosh!’
‘There, did you hear that splash? That’s your prey! Follow the sounds.’
And deep inside the virtual reality ocean world, the game player swivels the shark’s head backwards and forwards in an attempt to swim towards the elusive sounds of the fish prey swimming somewhere up ahead. Success!
Ideally situated at the edge of False Bay in Cape Town, South Africa, the Save Our Seas Shark Education Centre overlooks the ocean and is right on the doorstep of the incredible Dalebrook Marine Protected Area. This unique location enables us to immerse children in experientially focused educational activities.
The SOSF Shark Education Centre is an attraction not to be missed. It boasts a carefully selected collection of state-of-the-art exhibits that ensures that children and adults are able to learn through play and exploration, with each of their different senses engaged. This facilitates a truly immersive and stimulating educational experience while they are having fun.
The Shark Education Centre focuses mostly on sharks, from their diversity and anatomy to their habitats and their role in the ocean. However, there is also a strong emphasis on the unique and special marine ecosystem found in and around False Bay – and sharks are used as a key to unlock more general marine knowledge.
Groups of schoolchildren come through the centre and leave feeling inspired to care about sharks and their ocean habitats. But the centre does not only cater for visiting schools; there are outreach events, holiday clubs, marine awareness camps, marine explorers clubs and many other activities.
The Shark Education Centre also invites the general public to explore its displays. Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that our marine education and conservation messages are spread far and wide.