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Inside Antarctic 360°

Posted by Agasty Baylon Yogaratnam - 2nd August 2018


This October, governments will decide on whether to establish an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary, the biggest of its kind. Scientists that advise the body responsible for this decision, known as the Antarctic Ocean Commission, held talks this July in Cambridge to discuss the details of this sanctuary.

In response, Greenpeace wanted to make sure that these talks stayed keenly focused on protecting the Antarctic. Together we created a huge geo-dome in Cambridge, showcasing a 360° virtual reality experience of the Antarctic.

As the Art & Editorial intern at Greenpeace UK, my role is to help coordinate the visual elements of our campaigns. Antarctic 360° was my first project with the team, and though it was a huge challenge, I couldn’t have asked for a more enjoyable or rewarding experience. Here are my personal highlights of the event:

The Antarctic Virtual Reality 360°

It was a strange feeling preparing for an event that revolved around something I had not seen myself, but this made my anticipation to experience the 360° event as intense as the many people queuing up outside.

I was not disappointed.

For a short while it was easy to forget the sweltering summer heat of July.

Our huge geo-dome ceiling brought the atmospheric vastness of the Antarctic Ocean to Cambridge, and placed us in the midst of a swarming, incessantly noisy penguin colony.

But it was what lay beneath the Antarctic Ocean that shocked me the most.

The ocean floor was home to fluorescent, surreal creatures that seemed too alien to exist on this planet. I could tell others felt the same as I heard gasps of wonder throughout the dome.

Regardless of age, every face I saw was unified in its reaction: wide-eyed, curious and amazed.

You can check out the 360° Video on the Greenpeace Facebook page:  https://act.gp/2mJD0qI

Or, to get the complete experience you can order a VR Explorer Kit for just £5 (which includes a headset, interactive map, stickers and a guide):  https://act.gp/2OekPpT

Capturing public support

As the film ended, and people flooded out of the geo-dome, there was a feeling of wonder over what they had seen. What soon followed was the realisation that all could be lost in a worryingly short amount of time.

We really wanted the scientists of the Antarctic Ocean Commission to fully understand the public’s concern.

So when leaving the VR experience, people wrote personal messages on pieces of ribbon which were tied up on lines of string to resemble bunting.

Even after the first day of the event, the strings were crowded with a sea of messages.

It was amazing to see the personal connection that people felt towards the Antarctic and the sheer number of people who wanted to help save this icy haven.

The Children’s Competition

The geo-dome also hosted a children’s drawing competition, where the lucky winners of each age group won a special Antarctic explorer’s pack. Keep your eyes peeled on our website where we’ll be announcing the winners soon!

Looking at the hundreds of spectacular illustrations, I noticed that the Antarctic 360° footage had a clear impact on the children. I was amazed by how much of the footage appeared on these pages. There were penguins, feather stars and even drawings of the Greenpeace ship with its crew members.

It was a thoroughly heartwarming sight to see both children and adults alike, contributing in great numbers towards this movement.

What’s next…

The  decision on whether to establish this sanctuary will happen in October – all 24 countries involved and the EU will have to unanimously agree for this to happen.

Greenpeace will be calling on the UK government to ensure they are the champions for an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary at the October meeting. We need your help to put pressure on the government, and to make them realise the urgency of this matter. To do this, please sign our petition: https://secure.greenpeace.org.uk/page/s/antarctic

We will make sure that the Antarctic is the focus in as many global diplomatic meetings and negotiations as possible. There is much to do.

Fortunately, the amount of support garnered in Cambridge both from the public and from many scientists of the Antarctic Ocean Commission is an extremely promising sign.