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A snorkeler explores a reef in the Coral Sea ©

A snorkeler explores a reef in the Coral Sea ©

See it, Save it! WWF releases virtual reality Reef technology

09 Jun 2015

  • great barrier reef
  • climate change
  • fight for the reef
  • technology
  • innovation

To mark the launch of its global campaign to better protect the Great Barrier Reef, WWF-Australia has today released world-first technology that allows people to experience the incredible underwater wonder of the Great Barrier Reef on their smartphone.
WWF’s Virtual Reality Reef Goggles have been developed in partnership with Underwater Earth, Google Creative Lab and Grumpy Sailor, utilising beautiful 360˚ underwater seascapes and new experimental platform Storyspheres to provide a fully immersive and virtual experience of the Great Barrier Reef.
Incredible underwater vision of Lady Elliot Island, the Yongala Wreck, North Broken Passage and Myrmidon Reef has been overlaid with real audio from undersea dives to allow people to explore this underwater world up, down, and all around with sound.
The first of its kind project kick starts the Australian phase of WWF’s global Draw the Line campaign, which has already garnered almost half a million signatures from around the world calling on the World Heritage Committee to make a strong decision on the Great Barrier Reef when it meets in Bonn, Germany later this month.
A draft decision has put Australia on probation until the health of the Reef actually improves. The World Heritage Committee will decide whether to keep Australia on probation or trust the Australian Government that the Reef is ‘just fine’.  
The ruling comes three years after UNESCO first warned Australia to clean up its act in protecting the Reef, and is critical to the future protection of vast populations of fish, sharks and other marine wildlife that teem within its unique coral reef ecosystem.
WWF’s National Manager of Marine Conservation Rick Leck said that the virtual reality technology has been created to help shine a light on the natural splendor of the Great Barrier Reef and the importance of the impending UNESCO decision.
“We know that if people experience the incredible natural wonders of the Great Barrier Reef, they’ll be inspired to help save it,” he said.
“The Reef is a wondrous place where creatures and colours of the most amazing and diverse nature reside in an underwater coral paradise, yet the health of the Reef is under serious threat.
“Australians in particular have the greatest responsibility to ensure UNESCO gives the Reef the highest level of protection, not just for us but for others around the world and for future generations.
“Your support can help secure a momentous win for the Great Barrier Reef. It’s your Reef, join the campaign to help protect it.”
To win a free pair of the Virtual Reality Reef Goggles, supporters can sign up to WWF’s campaign at and add their name to the global petition telling UNESCO to draw the line on damage caused to the Reef by port expansion, dredging and pollution.
Using Satellite View on Google Maps, they can then claim and name their very own little piece of the Reef to protect – as an official Reef Ambassador.
By signing on and protecting a piece of the Reef, supporters will help demonstrate to UNESCO that millions of people around the world expect them to make a strong decision on the Reef later this month, ensuring that Australia’s governments take real action to protect this World Heritage icon into the future.

  •  To experience the wonder of the Great Barrier Reef in virtual reality, visit WWF’s 'It's Your Reef' website on a smartphone.
  • From here choose one of four incredible Reef locations to explore: Lady Elliot Island, the Yongala Wreck Reef, North Broken Passage and Myrmidon Reef.
  • If using WWF’s Virtual Reality Reef Goggles, place the smartphone into the frame of the goggles. If using a smartphone without goggles, you’re ready - free to explore the natural wonder of the Great Barrier Reef.

For more information or images, please contact:
Rachael Bruzzese, WWF-Australia