Virtual reality exhibit in Fort Lauderdale aims to 'protect our reefs'

Riptide Music Festival to present VR experience

Denise Doughty wears the VR headsets that will be used to present the virtual reality exhibit during the Riptide Music Festival.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – For those Riptide Music Festival goers who don't have the courage and the money to become a certified scuba diver, there will be a virtual reality underwater experience diving off Pompano Beach. 

Rob Wyre, the president of the Shipwreck Park Pompano Beach, a not-for-profit organization, said they partnered with the Celebration of the Sea Foundation and the music festival to produce an interactive exhibit that he says will help promote reef preservation.   

"Public engagement and education about our reef system has become a priority," Wyre said in a statement. 

The organizations recruited Frazier Nivens, of Key Largo, and Victor Nappe, of Pompano Beach. They both share a love of underwater photography and a passion for spreading the message to "protect our reefs." 

Nivens recorded a scuba diving excursion of artificial reefs in the area with a 360-degree camera. The underwater filmmaker focused on two shipwrecks: The Lady Luck, a 324-foot tanker vessel built in 1967 that has been southeast of the Hillsboro Inlet since 2016, and the Okinawa, north of Fort Lauderdale. 

Both of the sunken ships exhibit some of Dennis MacDonald's artwork, which Shipwreck Park Pompano Beach donated. His sculptures are made out of recycled ship parts and concrete. 

"I wanted the entire project to evoke a sense of playfulness and good humor," the local artist told USA Today last year

Nivens gave his footage to Nappe's Chaos Media Group. They used the video to create the interactive computer-generated experience with sensory feedback. To view their work, viewers will be provided with a VR headset. 

The VR experience will be available from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 during the Riptide Music Festival at 1005 Seabreeze Blvd., in Fort Lauderdale.