Deep ocean explorers, Nekton, have today released an immersive 360 virtual reality video enabling viewers, for the first time, to experience a virtual submersible dive to the deepest known point of the ocean – Challenger Deep, a 6.83 mile descent (10,994m/35,069ft) into the Marianas Trench in the Pacific Ocean.

The video’s release marks the launch of Nekton’s first mission, sponsored by re/insurer XL Catlin, to investigate the state of the deep ocean. The scientific findings will be released as part of the XL Catlin Deep Ocean Survey, a pioneering new multi-disciplinary marine research programme investigating physical, chemical and biological indicators to assess the function, health and resilience of the deep ocean.

Scientists from a dozen marine research institutes are joining the four-week mission launched by the newly founded scientific research charity, Nekton. The research programme, based aboard two sea going vessels, is focusing on three locations: Bermuda, Nova Scotia, and the High Seas (NW Atlantic & Sargasso Sea).

The first scientific vessel, Canadian Coast Guard Ship Hudson, departed from Halifax and is now anchored off the coast of Bermuda. The second vessel and submersible deployment ship, Baseline Explorer, was deployed from Hamilton, Bermuda’s capital, two weeks ago and is now exploring the deep ocean surrounding the island in the Northwest Atlantic.

To explore the full impact of human activities in the deep ocean, the expedition is using cutting-edge technology including the latest manned submersibles with fully spherical hulls, remotely operated vehicles and underwater 360 cameras.

Triton 3300-3 diving (c) Triton & NektonThe Triton 300-3 submersible used by Nekton.

The first 360 video delivers a 3D virtual reality, fully immersive experience designed to enable viewers to share similar experiences to Nekton’s co-founder and submersible pilot, Oliver Steeds, who narrates the descent. To watch the first video on YouTube please go here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_N79EfH1a4Q

Oliver said: “Whilst 12 people have walked on the moon, only three people have been to full ocean depth. People have spent 300 hours on the moon and only 3 hours at full ocean depth. Viewers will experience the descent into the darkest depths of the ocean, and encounter the inhabitants and hundreds of facts about the least known frontier on our planet. Look out for hammerhead sharks, blue whales, sperm whales and the terrifying fangtooth fish.”

The 10 minute video ‘Journey to the Deep’ is divided into three episodes to be released over the course of the mission. The first episode takes the viewer from the surface into the Twilight Zone (200m – 1000m); the second explores the Midnight & Abyssal Zones (1000m – 6000m); the third descends into the Hadopelagic Zone (6000m – 11000m).

The videos can be viewed online at the Nekton Mission YouTube Channel and Facebook page via a smartphone and virtual reality headset or via tablet and computer using keystrokes to move through a 360 degree line of sight.

For more information on how to watch a 360 video please click here.

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