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Virtual Reality Brings Dwarf Minke Whales To A Global Audience

Now you can experience via VR what only a few hundred people see each year.

11/07/2017 10:02 PM AEST | Updated 12/07/2017 8:25 AM AEST
Dean Miller
Dwarf minke whales gather at the Great Barrier Reef for only six weeks each year.

What is considered one of the world's most phenomenal encounters is being up close to dwarf minke whales as they gather in the most remote northern parts of the Great Barrier Reef.

It's something that only ever happens for six weeks a year and only a few hundred people will get to enjoy the experience.

But, thanks to virtual reality, this incredibly rare event is now available to a global audience.

Dean Miller

It's now possible to log onto the Queensland YouTube channel from your smartphone and use the screen like a VR goggle.

All you need to do is move it around and you'll get a 360-degree view of the underwater action.

The VR creation is the brainchild of marine scientist Dr Dean Miller, who's also a filmmaker. Miller has spent hundreds of hours observing and filming minke whales; just two weeks ago, he captured this experience in VR with the aim to inspire more people to visit the Great Barrier Reef.

Dean Miller

"There is nothing else like it on the planet. It's the curious nature of the minke whales that make this experience so rare and sets it apart from other whale encounters," Miller said.

"Dwarf minke whales are considered the friendliest animals on the planet. In one swim, we can have over 20 animals come and seek out human interaction for up to ten hours at a time. It is something everybody should experience. It will change your life forever."

Dean Miller

The Great Barrier Reef is the only known predictable gathering of dwarf minke whales in the world. Scientist Dr Alastair Birtles from James Cook University believes it also offers one of the longest wildlife interactions.

"There's no inducement; they're not fed in any way. They just come in because they are so extraordinarily curious about us," Birtles said.

"There is no other wildlife interaction that lasts as long, where the animals come as close, and it's absolutely up to the animals themselves."

Dean Miller

Funding generated from the tourism enterprise is used to support the Minke Whale Research Project while swimmers are also encouraged to upload their own underwater photos and videos to assist with long-term photo-identification studies and to provide additional resources to the project's scientists.

Click here to view the VR experience.


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