London’s biggest wildlife secret revealed

ZSL launches underwater virtual reality experience to uncover London’s incredible wildlife.

Londoners can dive beneath the surface of the River Thames to see sharks, seals and eels this autumn without even getting their hair wet, as we launch a brand-new virtual reality experience at London Bridge City.  

Photo- Thames Virtual Reality unit on the walkway by the Thames, with London's skyline in background

More than fifty years after being declared ‘biologically dead’ the River Thames is now one of London’s best kept wildlife secrets and our Thames virtually reality experience is designed to show Londoners why.

Developed by Somewhere Else and BYO using Timescope technology, the experience gives budding explorers the chance to join ZSL on a Thames safari and journey through one of London’s most surprising wildlife habitats when it opens today.

Thanks to dedicated conservation efforts, an astonishing 120 fish species now call the Thames home. Seals, seahorses and oyster live in the Thames, alongside Critically Endangered European eels and smelt (a very small fish, which smells of cucumber!). Many of these amazing species are born and nurtured in the river, before they venture out into the ocean.

ZSL has been working to protect the Thames and its inhabitants for more than 15 years, conducting population surveys, removing barriers for endangered species and conducting surveys to understand and protect important habitats. Launching as part of our Mother Thames campaign and coinciding with London’s Totally Thames festival, the new virtual reality experience is free to take part in, where conservationists hope the experience will inspire users to protect it. 

Photo - A girl trying the VR experience while her friends watch, with the Thames and Tower Bridge in the background

Users will stand on the bank of the River while looking through a custom-made view finder to take a deep dive in the River Thames, making the invisible, visible. Guided by narration from Good Morning Britain’s broadcast meteorologist Laura Tobin - most often seen presenting the weather forecast against the backdrop of the Thames - users will learn about the distinctive features of the river’s wildlife as they explore.

ZSL’s Thames Virtual Reality Experience will open on the bank of the River in London Bridge City on 6 September and is free and open to all. The public can also donate to ZSL’s conservation work after taking part in the virtual reality experience.

Learn more about our Thames VR Experience

More news from ZSL

A close up image showing fresh palm oil fruit

ZSL research shows industry must increase transparency to combat deforestation 

A group of smallspotted catshark investigates an underwater camera in Cardigan Bay 

Citizen scientists invited to ‘plunge’ into Welsh waters to help research rare aquatic species

A wollemi pine cone

ZSL (Zoological Society of London) and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew publish list of highly threatened plants with unique evolutionary traits to...