Diving into the blue usually means getting wet, but users of a new online app can experience the wonders of the oceans without a wetsuit.
TheBlu is a new socially interactive site that could be categorized as “edutainment,” but to stop there would be an injustice. The site is a globally connected virtual ocean brought to life by “Makers,” digital artists who collaborate to create the environments, creatures and ambient music users experience. Celebrities like Ted Danson and Neil Young, as well as conservationists like Jean-Michel Cousteau and Sylvia Earle have endorsed the site.
Users will find a world both relaxing and stimulating. Follow fish into the depths or hang with jellyfish near the surface — each encounter is unique and feels authentic. Lucky visitors are invited to interact with Big Blu, a blue whale created by Andy Jones, Academy Award- winning animation director of Avatar.
There’s no cost to join, but theBlu raises money for partners by selling credits to purchase creatures or new environments. The average fish costs 40 credits, about $5. (Tip: Clicking on a passing creature will earn users 10 points; 500 points equals 10 free credits.) Special “ambassador species,” chosen by groups like Scripps Institute of Oceanography, Mission Blue and Wild Aid are available in the site’s store, with 25 percent of proceeds going to the group.
Part escape, part social network, part charity, theBlu “is an extraordinary way to enjoy the oceans and learn about all the individual species that interdependently form our life-support system,” says Earle. “I am delighted to be part of theBlu and offering my guidance.”