(Aug. 28, 2016)—The Chesapeake Conservancy partnered with Terrain360 to release a 360° virtual reality video (360VR) of the "Ghost Fleet" of Mallows Bay—Potomac River, the largest collection of historic shipwrecks in the Western Hemisphere which is located in Charles County, Md. Mallows Bay—Potomac River has been nominated to become the first national marine sanctuary in the Chesapeake Bay.
The 360VR was produced using drones overhead, which created a unique perspective from above not available by even visiting the shipwrecks in person since they cannot be physically accessed.
This 360VR is in addition to and complements the Chesapeake Conservancy's existing high-resolution virtual tour of Mallows Bay—Potomac River which was produced using 360-degree images taken every 50 feet by six cameras mounted on a vessel 10 feet above the water's surface. These images were stitched together to create a digital image map of Mallows Bay, and eventually the entire Potomac River, accessible by anyone with an Internet connection.
"I'm really excited about this new 360° virtual reality video of the shipwrecks at Mallows Bay. Drone imagery and technology have made it possible to see the details of the shipwrecks like never before," Chesapeake Conservancy President and CEO Joel Dunn said. "At the Chesapeake Conservancy, we have embraced technology as a way of engaging people with conservation efforts and to help connect people to special places on the John Smith Chesapeake Trail like Mallows Bay—Potomac River."
"It's an honor to be part of this project," Terrain360's Andy Thompson said. "Mallows Bay is such a special place in our nation's history and a beautiful place to visit. We're so proud to be part of this effort to help make it virtually accessible to everyone."
The 360VR will be featured at the Charles County Department of Recreation, Parks, and Tourism's booth at the Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) conference in Ocean City this week (the booth is #810 in the Bayfront Hall at the Roland Powell Convention Center).
"The Department of Recreation, Parks, and Tourism is proud to partner with the Chesapeake Conservancy to showcase Mallows Bay. We look forward to sharing with MACo attendees a visual tour of this Charles County treasure through Chesapeake Conservancy's 360 degrees virtual reality video," Department of Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Director Eileen Minnick said.
The Chesapeake Conservancy is a core partner along with Charles County and other organizations on the Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary Nomination, submitted by the State of Maryland in September 2014. The nomination is currently under review by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Such a designation would protect this marine landscape for generations to come.
Online visitors can best view the 360VR on mobile devices using Chrome via the following links:
3D Video tour of the Accomac: www.youtube.com/watch?v=uL4_9CakBL4
Flying over the Barge Wreck: www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_uUcD36T78
3D Video tour of the Sea Scout: www.youtube.com/watch?v=uILqX8IzEsg
The "Ghost Fleet" of Mallows Bay includes more than 100 wooden steamships built for the U.S. Emergency Fleet during World War I, as well as many other wrecks from Revolutionary times through the 1900s. These wrecks support diverse ecosystems that are teeming with marine life, attracting recreational fishing and ecotourists to the area.