Attenborough Great Barrier Reef main

Dr Steve Simpson worked with David Attenborough and Atlantic Productions at Lizard Island.
Image credit: Atlantic Productions

Scientist helps bring Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef into UK homes

A marine biologist from the University of Exeter has taken part in a David Attenborough series which is giving viewers unprecedented interactive access to the Great Barrier Reef via an innovative new website.

Dr Steve Simpson, Senior Lecturer in Marine Biology & Global Change at the University of Exeter, worked with David Attenborough and Atlantic Productions at Lizard Island on the first episode of the BBC series Great Barrier Reef with David Attenborough. Screened on 30th December, the first episode featured Dr Simpson’s work on the rich and complex acoustic world of coral reefs, and showed how reef noise is vital for fish during early life and for habitat selection. The episode can be viewed on BBC iPlayer here.

Dr Simpson also advised on content for the accompanying website David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef: An Interactive Journey, created by Atlantic Productions, available here.

The website enables users to follow animals as they travel across the reef, swipe and see how they see and hear, touch the screen and watch coral grow, see the weather and ocean currents change as they happen, and explore high resolution scans of the reef to reveal its hidden history.

Using immersive experiences, cutting-edge science and many compelling short films, David Attenborough takes users on a journey of exploration across the Great Barrier Reef on board a state of the art research vessel and a unique submersible.

Dr Steve Simpson, from the University of Exeter, said: “It was a real honour to work with Sir David at Lizard Island, where I have spent 7 field seasons researching fish behaviour, and to help piece together our research into a spectacular sequence. I’m delighted to be part of this production, which brings the compelling story of the rich diversity of life in the Great Barrier Reef into UK homes in a truly interactive way. By engaging with leading experts, the creators of both the programme and the app have created an authentic immersive experience that is educational, innovative and extremely enjoyable.”

The site is freely accessible to the public and through it anyone is able to experience the reef through the eyes of one of the world’s greatest living naturalists. Combining David Attenborough’s powerful storytelling with interactive experiences, this online journey will educate and engage the user. With scientific contributions from renowned research institutions from across the world including the Australian Institute of Marine Science, James Cook University, the University of Queensland and the University of Exeter, the user will discover the beautiful diversity on the reef and uncover the incredible research being done to decode it. As users explore its history they also reveal its uncertain future.

David Attenborough commented: “In this unique online experience you will go on an interactive journey through this beautiful but threatened world, The Great Barrier Reef.”

The three-part series airs at 9pm on BBC1 on Wednesdays.

Date: 8 January 2016

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