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The New Zealand Marine Studies Centre's new venture at Portobello will be "launched" today with a bucket of sea water broken on its side.
Programme director Sally Carson said the DSV Batham - named for Betty Batham, the first director of research at the centre in the 1950s - was the result of many months work by designer and builder Graeme Furness and others.
It would allow visitors to the aquarium to experience the excitement of scientific research in the deep sea in less than 15 minutes, she said.
"The deep sea is on Dunedin's doorstep, yet they know so little about it."
Visitors would enter the DSV, joining the "pilot" and scientist, before setting off on a virtual journey to the bottom of the canyon, a journey which would normally take 10 to 12 hours.
Instead, video created by deep sea researcher Peter Batson, and narrated by Dougal Stevenson and Ian McGee, would transport the "crew" of about 15 to 20 people into the deep sea.
A bubble tank, models of corals, fish and other species and preserved specimens of deep sea creatures would complete the experience, she said.
She hoped the experience would highlight the need for more deep-sea research and exploration.
"We hope it will inspire young people that being a scientist is cool and is not out of reach."
The venture was funded by the A. A. W. Jones Charitable Trust, the Synod of Otago and Southland and Deep Ocean Quest.
The DSV will be open for the school holidays and form part of a "deep sea" themed programme of events including a talk by Mr Batson on July 9.