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Expedition 33: 3D Modeling of a Great Hammerhead Shark

Scientists, an underwater cinematographer and ANGARI Foundation teamed up to obtain high resolution video of a great hammerhead shark for the purpose of creating 3D models that can be used for science, education and public outreach.

3D Model



February 28 – March 2, 2020


Bimini, The Bahamas


Science Team

Annabelle Brooks
Duncan Irschick
Casey Sapp
Sean Williams

During this expedition, scientist Duncan Irschick from Digital Life 3D and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Casey Sapp, the CEO of VRTUL came aboard R/V ANGARI on a mission to capture high quality underwater footage of a great hammerhead shark in motion. The footage collected during this expedition was used to create accurate 3D models for scientific and educational purposes.

As expected, January weather proved challenging and the team spent half of their days in the field and the other half at the dock. The team battled a strong current while diving, which challenged them to be creative with their equipment setup and methods.

This is not the first time ANGARI Foundation and Digital Life teamed up. Back in August 2018, R/V ANGARI traveled to Andros with Irschick and sea turtle expert Annabelle Brooks to collect data on green sea turtles. In Andros, Irschick did not have access to the high-end underwater gear that Sapp brought to Bimini this time. Sapp’s multi-camera rig was able to collect 3D views of a swimming great hammerhead shark from all angles and provided Digital Life modelers with the necessary visualization and data to create high resolution and accurate animated 3D models. After reviewing the collected footage post-expedition, the individual female great hammerhead shark known to locals as “Nemesis” was chosen for modeling. The completed great hammerhead shark model is part of Digital Life’s “ark” of living organisms, which serves as an invaluable resource for educators, scientists and conservationists.

Special thanks to Annabelle Brooks and Sean Williams for assisting with underwater field activities and Kenneth S. Morton and Jonathan and Jameson Bayuk, who made this expedition possible and also assisted with field support.

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Duncan Irschick is an integrative biologist and innovator interested in the evolution and ecology of animal athletics, and how biological form informs synthetic design. His research on gecko adhesion, 3D-imaging, animal movement, and bioinspiration has garnered international acclaim and awards. He is a co-inventor of two technologies – GeckskinTM, a bioinspired super-adhesive, and BeastcamTM, a portable multi-camera technology that can create high-resolution 3D models of living creatures. He is also the co-founder and director of Digital Life, a non-profit initiative to create and distribute high-resolution 3D models of life on earth, and the Center for Evolutionary Materials at UMASS Amherst. Duncan has published 137 papers on animal function and evolution, and has been a co-inventor on several patents.


Casey Sapp is the CEO of both VRTUL (Virtual Reality Technology Underwater Limited) and and Blue Ring Imaging. In 360/VR storytelling Casey has played many roles as a producer, DP, camera tech, and post-supervisor. Some of Casey’s inventions include the first 360 3D underwater camera system, the first underwater 360 live broadcast (GMA), the first ROV VR piloting system (MBARI), the first 360 cinematic camera on a submarine, and the highest resolution underwater cinematic camera system in the world (MSG Spheres).


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