(Photo by Flickr user John Menard, used under a Creative Commons license)
Near the corner of Dolphin St. and right next to the giant octopus made of repurposed plastic (created by artist Kasey Jones), the Inner Harbor institution is letting attendees of this weekend’s free arts festival hop in a kayak and view some harbor life. Paddling is optional.
The excursion is offered through a virtual reality experience, in which participants are guided around the National Aquarium’s floating wetlands. Located on the waterfront, the artificial islands are designed to attract native species. Since being installed last year, the wetlands are starting to see ghost sea anemones, ducks and other species, said National Aquarium Director of Content Strategy Nabila Chami. The aquarium has plans to expand the wetlands between Piers 3 and 4.
To bring viewers down by the water, the aquarium partnered with Mosaic Learning to create a virtual reality experience. Sean Mauney, the Columbia-based firm’s multimedia interactive, got out on the water and filmed the wetlands by boat. Under the tent at Artscape, viewers climb into a kayak, strap on an Oculus Go and are handed a paddle (for effect). While taking a jaunt around the Aquarium on the water, the experience also offers information on the species that are gathering around the wetlands.
“They’ve always been right below the surface,” Mauney said.
Along with offering a serene escape from the festival bustle, the idea is to provide a glimpse of what the notoriously polluted harbor could could look like – and attract – if cleanup progress continues. It fits with the Aquarium’s wider push at Artscape, called Sea Change, which encourages folks to get involved in protecting and building the ecosystem.
Artscape runs July 20-22.
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