If I could, I would pick up a paintbrush and paint the world in different shades of blue. I would trade my sturdy toes for webbed feet and wish for the ability to breathe underwater. But until then, I take what I can get and, for now, the only thing that keeps me from missing the vast waters are virtual tours of deep seas from around the world
David Attenborough’s Coral Reef
A winning combination like no other: David Attenborough’s smooth, gripping voice and the stunning Great Barrier Reef. Attracting thousands of animals each year, this reef is one of the most fragile environments in the world and one of the most popular ones too. The virtual tour is quite interactive, with short videos, quick facts, maps and timelapse. It accounts for over 1,500 species of fish and around 600 different types of corals that thrive in the reef. Our favourite bit is the ‘mantis shrimp vision’, a tool through which you can see the world the way a mantis shrimp does.
Swimming with Sea Turtles
Sea turtles are magnificent creatures known for their long, long lives and their ability to hold their breath underwater for seven hours. We love BBC Earth’s adorable turtle hatching experience and Airpano VR’s sea turtles near Jardines de la Reina archipelago, Cuba.
Mysterious, stuck in time and sometimes, downright terrifying, shipwreck expeditions are not everybody’s cup of tea. But we suggest you give their virtual version a chance, if not for a glimpse of what the real thing could be like. There are plenty of sites near New Zealand including the HMNZA Canterbury and MS Mikhail Lermontov. Xlvisuals Limited offers immersive, 360-degree videos of these warships and ocean liners; these videos are the only way to see MS Mikhail Lermontov as parts of the warship was collapsed after an earthquake in 2016. The Smithsonian allows viewers to explore 17th-century Melckmeyt without the freezing waters of Iceland.
Diving with Sharks
Though not so scary in a virtual setting (we are all over Jaws, by now) a dive with sharks is nothing short of extraordinary. See Discovery Channel’s take on the whale shark (largest fish on Earth) that was filmed on the coast of Mexico. This 360-degree video isn’t very long but captures them mid feeding and allows viewers to observe them in great detail. If you are the patient type, then opt for Exploreorg’s webcam stream and if you are lucky, you might get a glimpse of a shark in Atlantic of Cape Fear in North Carolina.
Diving with Jellyfish
Airpano has much under its sleeve, but our absolute favourite is their 360 degree, diving with Jellyfish in Indonesian waters. Translucent and mesmerising to the core, these jellyfish are a delight to experience virtually; you can change angles and locations to observe them better. They are quite dangerous, so any experience that doesn’t put either party in danger is quite unique.