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Dive into Wellington’s Marine Reserve without getting wet

Want to feel like a scuba diver and take a look under the waves? Now you can from anywhere and stay dry at the same time. All you need is an internet connection. Thanks to technology and some innovative local divers, you can get close-up and personal with Wellington’s marine life and discover the remains of local shipwrecks on a 360 Virtual Dive Tour of Taputeranga Marine Reserve.

“Experiencing the diversity and benefits of Taputeranga Marine Reserve first-hand builds connection for people and even a sense of guardianship,” says Colin Ryder, Chair of the Friends of Taputeranga Marine Reserve. “This virtual tour allows absolutely everyone to ‘dive’ into the reserve, particularly those who otherwise might not be able to.”

“It’s really exciting - I have never dived or snorkelled. The marine reserve is a big part of my life and taking the virtual tour is the first time I got to dive it!”

The currents running through Cook Strait support a rich biodiversity of fish, invertebrates and algal species. The complex topography of the coast has also created a wide variety of habitats within a relatively small area. Local diver, Nicole Miller, Taputeranga Marine Reserve Trustee and President of the Wellington Underwater Club says “On just about every dive we discover something exciting - marine life or historic artefacts. We are so lucky to have this marine wonderland right at our doorstep. Creating a virtual dive tour allows us to bring our experiences to everyone’s mobile device, classroom or living room.”

Nicole is particularly keen to connect children and students with the marine environment and use new technology to complement the real experience. “A highlight for me is to support the work of educational groups like Mountains to Sea Wellington Trust. Nothing beats inspiring young people to go out for a snorkel or dive themselves and become ocean stewards.”

Taputeranga Marine Reserve Patron, penguin monitor, and keen scuba diver Celia Wade-Brown points out the opportunity to gain support for the marine environment beyond the marine reserve boundaries. “Wellingtonians love the harbour and South Coast. The virtual dive tour is a great starting point for others to get interested in our home, and for Wellingtonians themselves to get interested in the wider marine environment.”

Work of the many community groups that restore and protect coastal marine areas adds up to a huge overall impact. Celia says forward-looking “biophilic” cities care about their local environment on land and sea.

“It’s important Greater Wellington Regional Council and city councillors know about the Blue Belt. Less pollution and more support for local groups are essential steps to a healthier marine environment for everyone.”

Start exploring your local marine environment by taking the interactive 360 virtual photo tour or watch the immersive 360 videos on www.adventure360.co.nz/360tmr. Leave your contact details for updates and stay in touch with us. We will be looking for sponsors to get the virtual dive tour to classroom and local events.

Find out more about the Marine Reserve on www.taputeranga.org.nz and the Wellington Underwater Club on www.wuc.org.nz

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