The project Connect2Sturgeons is created in WebVR format, which applies the technology of virtual reality in a web browser. The story of the Connect2Sturgeons interactive journey had been filmed in 2018, in the Ukrainian part of the Danube Delta. The virtual trip has 5 different scenes, where users can see the Danube Delta and part of the Black Sea from a bird’s eye view, they can visit “kilometer zero” in the delta, where wild sturgeons live, to observe fishermen in Vylkove, and just a few clicks later, to learn how sturgeons are bred in aquaculture.
Guide in the world of sturgeons is Inna Hoch, ichthyologist at WWF Ukraine and coordinator of the project “LIFE for Danube Sturgeons” in Ukraine.
“According to the data of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), sturgeons are the most endangered group of species worldwide. Not so long ago there were 6 sturgeon species in the Danube River and as of today one of the native Danube species is already extinct and four others are critically endangered. In Ukraine, all of the wild native Danube sturgeons are protected by the Ukrainian Red Book of Threatened Species. The main reasons for the extinction of the wild sturgeons are poaching – for their meat and caviar, the built-in obstacles that cut short sturgeons’ migration routes, water pollution, the loss of habitat. That is why we need to actively educate our fellow citizens in Ukrainian about nature protection and the importance of sturgeons for the Danube River”, says Inna Hoch.
During the virtual trip, users will be able to find interesting facts about the biodiversity of the Danube Delta, as well as, how directly to help protect sturgeons in Ukraine, as all these details will appear after the end of the 5th scene.
“Often, in order to understand something, it’s worth seeing it at least once. Unfortunately, not everyone has the opportunity and time to visit the Danube Delta and enjoy the abundance of wild species. At the same time, according to some data, Ukrainians spend at least 30% of their time on the Internet and in online social networks. So, we had the idea to “shorten the distance” and bring the world of sturgeons a little closer to everyone with the help of technologies. The actual filming of the scenes took place in the autumn, it was quite cold, especially at “kilometer zero” and we had to wrap ourselves in blankets, but it was worth it”, says Mila Arseniuk, Marketing and Communications coordinator at WWF Ukraine.
For now, Connect2Sturgeons WebVR is available only in Ukrainian and can be found at: https://sturgeons.panda.org