An ocean adventure – no tanks required

Could this be the future of aquariums?

National Geographic’s newest aquarium, “Ocean Odyssey”, has opened in Times Square in New York City.

And the best part? It is completely fish-free.

Bringing visitors face-to-face with humpback whales, great white sharks, and a pair of Humboldt squid locked in ferocious battle – Ocean Odyssey uses incredible high-visual technology to share the lives of these aquatic animals without the use of tanks.

The experience is educational with a focus on conservation, from an interactive exhibit that lets players clean up a polluted coral reef to art made from ocean waste. This kind of cruelty-free conservation is a much better alternative to the conservation claims of aquariums.

Visitors can take a digital dive into ocean depths without forcing aquatic animals into a lifetime of captivity. Are these kind of interactive encounters the future of aquariums and zoos? We think that they could be!

Image: University of Salford

And it seems like cruelty-free conservation is catching on. During the 2017 Manchester Science Festival, the University of Salford introduced the immersive dry AquAIRium at MediaCity. 3D mapping is used to connect the movement of remote control helium fish to light and sound elements, and visitors can get hands-on to guide the marine life – piloting the digital fish to move around in the space. This interactive art-science installation brings to life every sight, sound and scent of the ocean without condemning live animals to a sad existence, unable to swim the depths of the sea with others of their kind.

CAPS investigations have discovered that as little as 2.5% of aquarium giant Sea Life’s exhibits house species which are classed as endangered and less than three pence per person can be traced directly to in situ conservation.

Traditional aquariums continue to take animals from the wild, most of whom are not of conservation concern, while offering very little towards in-situ conservation. Rather than having a positive impact on conservation, live animal aquariums are part of the problem.

Fish, turtles, sharks, crabs and other ocean animals are exploited every day in aquariums in the UK. Please help us protect aquatic animals and let them be free in the sea.

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