CMMI divers from the Marine and Coastal Ecosystems Centre, in collaboration with CYENS’s ITICA and Thinker Maker Space designers, are creating immersive digital tours showcasing Larnaca’s underwater sites, to raise awareness about biodiversity and promote tourism. The project is funded by the Larnaca Tourism Board and aims to map five of the most popular diving sites in Larnaca using photos and videos to build up digital 3D models.
The divers take in a lot of information through photography of the seabed and then modellers stitch it together through programming on the computer to create a video that gives a 360 (degree) tour. The tours will be available on an online platform by the end of the year in the project called Larnaca Virtual Underwater Routes.
The sites include two natural reefs and three wrecks, including the well-known Zenobia, an iron-and-steel colossus that sank in 1980 to its final resting place 40 metres (130 feet) down, just a 10-minute boat ride from the coastal resort of Larnaca.
While authorities are hoping the mapping project will stimulate tourism, it also aims to promote environmental awareness. Artificial reefs, such as sunken boats, can boost the biodiversity of nearby natural reefs by creating new havens for oceanic fauna. Mapping the sites makes them more accessible to tourists and the general public. It will also allow divers to understand the potential dangers or points of reference.