The white sand glows as you curve with a hammerhead shark through azure waters.
Later, you tilt and dive down deep to rescue a green sea turtle from a plastic net – and are repaid with a magical tour through a coral wonderland.
Four captivating ocean adventures await you with Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s new virtual reality experience, now open in the Pacific Seas Aquarium. Stay dry while exploring underwater with sharks, whales, turtles and more.
While virtual reality is a computer generated simulation, the Ocean Explorer experience makes you feel as if you really are in the middle of the ocean – assisted by the gentle rocking of the “pod” chairs in tandem with what you’re experiencing through the VR goggles.
You can choose to swim with humpbacks, come face to fin with sharks or even go on an underwater adventure in your own mini-submarine. Each experience lasts six to eight minutes.
In the “Swimming with Humpbacks” experience, you will get a rare glimpse and insight into the giant humpback whales as they migrate from Antarctica to the Kingdom of Tonga during mating season.
In “Shark Dive,” join marine biologists as they free-dive down to Tiger Beach, a mythical underwater area in the Bahamas where some of the world’s largest sharks gather. As the scientists hand-feed tiger sharks and use VR technology to study shark movements, you’re right there with them, weaving left and right as the camera is attached to a hammerhead fin or gliding smoothly in front of a tiger shark’s face. While there’s some excitement (watch out for surprise bumps from behind!), the experience leaves you with a wonder and new understanding of these animals’ strength, abilities and sheer beauty.
“Drift” is the only animated experience, and great for younger guests. Following a young boy as he dives off his boat, you rescue a sea turtle from a plastic net, take an amazing ride through ocean caverns and coral, meet a shark and a mermaid, glimpse the extent of our ocean plastic problem and get inspired by solutions. “Drift” is longer, at eight minutes.
“These videos show the natural environments of many of the animals we have here in our aquariums,” Donna Powell, business manager at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. “The virtual reality experience helps to instill appreciation and awe for the ocean and all it has to offer.”
About Ocean Explorer Virtual Reality:
What: Four underwater virtual reality experiences to choose from
Hours: Open 10am-4pm weekends and holidays
Cost: $8 non-member, $6 member
Where: Located in the Pacific Seas Aquarium as you exit the Baja Bay habitat
SHARK DIVE: If the virtual reality experience inspires you to learn more about aquatic animals, book an Eye-to-Eye Shark Dive to see them underwater in person. Get up close to massive sharks while learning about their biology from an underwater cage, staying cozy in a dry-suit and breathing surface air. Ages 8+, no experience necessary.