Interactive Live Dives: Skyping With the Ocean

The business adage, “If you swim with the sharks, you might get eaten,” has never dulled the passion of Maeva Gauthier and Mike Irvine, co-founders and executive directors of Fish Eye Project, an organization that connects communities to the world’s oceans via interactive live dives.

“There’s the danger and the excitement that anything could happen,” says Irvine, who made history in April 2015 by successfully defending his thesis from 15 feet under the Salish Sea to a live audience of academic supervisors in B.C. and Alberta.

Wearing full-face intercom masks and using small, compact high-definition handycams, Fish Eye Project divers explore unique marine ecosystems, simultaneously communicating with and being watched by live theatre audiences across the globe. It’s similar to an underwater Skype call, in that audience members are able to engage with the divers as they discover various aquatic environments, such as the salmon run in Campbell River or sea lions in Barkley Sound.

“We believe in edu-tainment,” says Irvine. “We want to entertain, but we want to subtly educate you at the same time. Our goal is to increase ocean literacy, so your understanding about your connection with the ocean, as well as the ocean’s connection with you, is significant, even if you are in a land-locked community.”

The team’s success has led them to their upcoming event on World Oceans Day on June 8, a live interactive underwater experience in IMAX theatres.

But they’re not stopping there. With advancements in marine technology, Fish Eye Project is aiming to link up with other professional divers around the world, eventually delivering live dives in multiple languages from top international dive sites.

“The hybrid system of diving gear, video equipment and easy-to-use webcasting is completely mobile and accessible, which means we could take this anywhere — Hawaii, Turks and Caicos, even Finland,” Irvine says. “But we want to do it really well here first.”