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A family of dolphins
Photograph: Andrea Izzotti / Shutterstock

Swim with dolphins (virtually) in this very cool VR experience

An immersive 360-degree film shows majestic pods gliding through Egypt’s Red Sea

Huw Oliver
Written by
Huw Oliver

If you’ve run out of ways to destress at home, maybe it’s time to learn a trick or two from some laidback pals of ours in the sea. Models of happiness and innocence, dolphins always have that chilled AF look about them, and now you can paddle by their side thanks to a 360-degree virtual-reality experience on YouTube.

Created as part of a research programme into ‘dolphin-assisted therapy’, the two-minute clip was shot by Dutch non-profit Dolphin Swim Club during a seven-day shoot in the Red Sea. In it, pods of spinner and bottlenose dolphins glide past the cameras, which you can swivel using a control pad to the top left of the screen: the fun lies in trying catch them before they vanish into the deep blue.

The research firm’s idea was to bring the joy of swimming with dolphins to disabled people and others who aren’t able to travel. They’ve since developed special ‘Underwater VR’ headsets that can be strapped on to patients in pools so they can ‘swim with dolphins’ without having to use animals in captivity (which has been criticised by environmentalists as cruel).

As treatments for stress go, it’s certainly pretty out-there. And though clinical trials are yet to take place, more than a thousand universities, hospitals and community centres around the world now use their ‘Dolphin VR’ programme as a general relaxation therapy, while similar technology is already playing a significant role in treatments for anxiety and other mental health problems. We’d like some VR koala cuddles next, please.

Watch Dolphin Swim Club’s 360-degree video below: 

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