Windsor

Life under the sea: UWindsor researcher helps with creation of viral interactive media

Harri Pettitt-Wade, a postdoctoral fellow in marine biology at the University of Windsor, assisted with the creation of an interactive visual media project which has now been viewed more than three millions times.

The creator behind the visualization says it's been viewed more than three million times

Harri Pettitt-Wade, a postdoctoral fellow in marine biology at the University of Windsor, assisted with the creation of an interactive visual media project which reached over a million people in a matter of days. (Éliane Duchesne)

A University of Windsor researcher's interactive deep-sea video has gone viral, with more than three million views in a very short time.

It was just a few weeks ago when Neal Agarwal, a self-proclaimed creative coder, reached out to Harri Pettitt-Wade, a postdoctoral fellow in marine biology at the University of Windsor, to help him with his new visual project — an interactive visualization of an ocean which allows users to scroll and learn more about the deep sea and which creatures live where.

"It is a bit of fun. I don't think it should be cited by the science community," Pettitt-Wade laughed. "It's a really good piece of education for kids and adults out there."

Pettitt-Wade said he was surprised by the amount of feedback the project received in such a short period of time.

"I looked over it in the evenings for a week and then he released it, and then literally a few days later, it [had] a million hits," said Pettitt-Wade. "It's amazing how that can happen and how information can spread so quickly on the internet."

The Deep Sea launched on Dec. 2nd. (The Deep Sea/Neal Agarwal)

Agarwal said the response to the project has been inspiring.

"I've received countless emails from people telling me that exploring the page made them feel like a kid again. I've also received messages from teachers saying they showed their class this visualization, which is awesome to hear," said Agarwal. "I definitely wish someone had shown me something like this when I was a kid."

Neal Agarwal said the response to the project has been inspiring. (Neal Agarwal/Twitter)

He also said Pettitt-Wade was "the perfect fit" for the project because he specializes in fish movement ecology.

"It was great to hear his thoughts and suggestions on which species to add. He's very passionate about his work and he taught me a lot about the ocean!" Agarwal said.

They both hope the project encourages more people to learn about the ocean.

It's a really good piece of education for kids and adults out there.- Pettitt-Wade

"I feel like many people, myself included, vastly underestimate how cool the ocean is. There is still so much left to explore in the ocean, and almost every expedition to the depths of the ocean uncovers something amazing," said Agarwal.

"This project was an attempt to get more people excited about the ocean in the same way they are excited about space. The ocean is like an alien world in our own backyard, it deserves more credit!"

Pettitt-Wade agreed and said he hopes "people gain more interest in how much we don't know about the deep sea and how much there is still to learn."

Agarwal said he has more visual and interactive story-telling projects that he's currently working on.

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