By Becky Shamen
There are four things that we, as real life humans, must do to stay alive and healthy. The amount of each will vary with each individual, but none of us can do without. We need at least a few hours of sleep each day. We need to eat food, now and then. The result of eating will, sooner or later, be followed by a trip to the bathroom, to eliminate waste. Last, but not least, we all need to breathe air. With training and practice, a pearl diver can hold their breath for several minutes, but most of us can't do it for a full 60 seconds.
In Second Life there are simulations that enable us to do these things, but none of them are required for a long and happy life. There are beds with animations for sleep and other bedtime activities. There are foods and restaurants, to satisfy your need to nom. There are bathrooms, with working tubs, sinks and toilets, although, like me, you may have noticed that bathrooms in SL are as rare as pots of gold at the end of the rainbow. If you go to a sim, where air is in short supply, such as outer space or under water, you might want to wear a space suit or scuba gear, but it won't hurt you to do without. Hold your nose and jump in. The water is fine. Join me as we explore Second Life Underwater.
A quick search on the net or SL's Destination Guide will reveal that a great many avatars spend most, if not all, their time under water. Long before I began writing for the Newser, I collected a group of LMs of mermaid sims and went to quite a few of them. It wasn't because I wanted to be a mermaid though. Some how, I had acquired a couple of mermaid tails and a swim AO and was looking for a good place to use them. Although I did meet and befriend one merman, for the most part that series was pretty fruitless, as adventures go. For that reason, this time I expanded my search from "mermaid" to "underwater." I don't have the time or space to tell you about all of the places I visited, but will report on those that made a good impression and are worth a visit.
The World of Mermaids
This sim was first on my list of sims to explore. It was not the best, but there are a few points worth mentioning. I have found most merfolk to be reticent and, even if your radar shows many in the sim, you are not likely to meet them if not wearing a mermaid or merman avatar. At the landing point of this sim, you can get a free male or female mer avatar, to get you started. There is a seahorse you can ride, a harp you can play, and some cool dance animations. There is also a spot for some romance, but keep in mind, this is an adult sim. In my notes, I wrote, "not a lot to explore, but a good place to take a date".
The next few places I explored were not worth mentioning. Three duds in a row began to remind me why I had given up the mermaid theme previously. I pulled out my red pen and crossed these sims off my list. At this point, I paused to send an IM to the merman I had met at the statue of liberty, asking if he could recommend any good sims. He wasn't on line, so I proceeded to the next place on my list, called "The Mermaid Temple." Panning and zooming my camera around, I discovered this sim was only a shop, but the whole time I was there, the only other person on the sim was, like me, not moving around. Zooming in, I saw that it was a mermaid, who was either trying to decide which new tail to buy, engaged in IMs or AFK. I walked over to her, introduced myself, said I was a reporter and asked if she knew of any good places to recommend. After a few moments, she responded. She said she was there because it was a quiet spot where she could engage in a number of IMs without other activities to engage her attention, but if I gave her a few minutes, she remembered one place that I might find of interest, but was not sure of the name she had saved and would TP there and, if it was the one, would send me a TP to join her. With a flick of her tail, she poofed and I stood with my fingers crossed. Moments later I received the TP invite and promptly clicked it.
Now I found myself in the "Roddenberry Dive Team" sim (secondlife://WYRLDMAKER/128/81/22). As I stood there, waiting for the sim to rez, she provided me with another LM, told me to get the free scuba gear and then use the yellow anim ball, by the dock. With that, I thanked her and she vanished. I picked up my free scuba gear, but since I was already wearing my Lara Kroft wet suit decided to make a stop home, to open my package, before going to the next sim. Nearby, was a dock with signs that explained the sim's features. It was all dedicated to the Star Trek theme, with the nearby water devoted to the episode where they saved the whales. The scuba theme ties in with Gene Roddenberry's son, "Rod", who is an avid scuba diver. At the right side of the dock are two yellow pose balls. They are linked, so you can take the tour with a friend. As soon as I clicked the ball, I checked the clock, to get an idea of how long the animated tour lasts. The leisurely swim around the lagoon was beautiful and, at 8 minutes, much longer than I expected. I give it two thumbs up. Back on land, I noticed they had more things to explore, if you go up the hill, but since I was here for the under water parts, I went home, unpacked the scuba gear and proceeded to the other LM that the mermaid had given me. Note: I took a pause from writing and returned and got a free Tricorder, from a booth at the top of the hill.
Haven of Mermaids
The LM I got from the mermaid was for a skybox shop, 901m above the sim. Those given above are for in the water below. I might have excluded the shop here, but the tails they sell were so beautiful and unusual, I felt readers might want to have a look see. After looking around, I went up to the balcony, put on my mask, flippers and swim animation, and jumped over the rail. You could easily spend many hours exploring here. I spotted many exotic underwater homes and, regardless of what part of the sim I was in, my radar showed at least a half dozen Avs, at various depths, around me. I could tell they were checking me out, because I'd see the blips move toward me, then away. I did actually see one, from a distance, but suspect I would have met them, had I been wearing a tail, instead of scuba gear. I'll return again soon, dressed to suit, to test my hypothesis. The photo, included with this article, was taken here. You can tell from the smile on my face how much fun it was.
While on a break from exploring in SL, I Googled the Haven of Mermaids and discovered it had a big following. If you want to do the mermaid thing, this is probably the best place to start.
The Jules Verne Museum
This sim won't require a tail or scuba gear, even though you will be under water for most of it. The landing puts you on the side of a steep hill. You can walk down or ride the near by cable ride. At the bottom, take the elevator down, then continue down on the spiral stairs. From here, you'll travel through a maze of glass tubes and chambers, allowing you to view the aquatic life while keeping your powder dry. In the chambers, you'll find animated signs which tell of the life and writings of Jules Verne. After visiting this under water museum, it's just a short jump to the modern submarine. You can explore the multiple levels, halls and compartments within. A word of advice though. Space is tight. Use an avatar that is under 1.9m tall and use mouselook inside the sub.
When visiting new places, I always open my world map and zoom out to get an idea of where in the SL world I am located. Doing this, I found the Jules Verne museum is located on the southern shore of a large, inland waterway, known as "The Sea of Fables", which is found in the north-central part of the original mainland, Sansara. With a name like sea of fables, since I was looking into under water adventure, I spent a little time panning the map for terraformed sea floors and investigating them. In the middle of one water sim, called "Azov", I found a large extinct volcano. Rising from it's black caldera were eight giant, purple octopus tentacles, waving about menacingly. At first, I stayed clear, but the adventuring spirit brought me closer, one step at a time. I finally walked right across, safely, but I can't make any promises as to what would happen if you swim or boat above it. On another Sea of Fables sim, called "Sulu", I found a giant, ancient green statue of a Titan, with it's head laying in the sand at it's feet. I've mentioned Azov and Sulu, because neither is mentioned in the destination guide or advertised. Like real life or Star Trek, there are plenty of new things out there, waiting for you to discover them.
In real life, we call large bodies of water oceans or seas and we give them names, like Atlantic, Pacific, Mediterranean. Exploring the water sims of SL, I have, so far, only discovered the names for two regions, the Blake Sea and the Sea of Fables. Between the continents of Nautilus and Corsica, there is a sea, the name of which I have not yet discovered. In my first Newser article, I told of finding a place called "Treasures of the sunken city", located in this un-named sea. It is to this sea that we now return, for my last two areas of underwater adventures.
Suboceana Scuba Diving
This LM finds us landing on a dock, at the southern end of the Wyrldmaker sim. If you go east on the dock, you will see a sign on the right side, which shows under water points of interest in the surrounding 20-30 sims, collectively known as "Suboceana". I have included a photo of this sign with this article. Exploring this area, we find sunken ship and plane wrecks, caves, reefs, ruins and treasure chests. You can explore it as a scuba diver, mermaid, in a submarine, or come as you are and walk on the sea floor. No matter how you travel, the area is way too big to see it all in just one visit. If you see a treasure chest, be sure to click on it and receive a free gift. I've found three, so far. If, after days or weeks, you feel you've seen all there is here, there is another area, just to the West.
Pravatch (near S. Corsica)
This location and the areas surrounding it, is also listed in the destination guide under underwater places. I did not explore it, but have included it here as a segue to my closing comments.
There are millions of square meters of water sims in SL. On the surface, many areas seem to lack any island or other interesting things to see. Every sim in SL has two things in common. Either Linden Labs or an individual is paying money to own and maintain it and it has an allotment of thousands of prims. If you look below the waves, using the world map or by diving in, the odds are in your favor that you WILL find something interesting down there. In Second Life, as in real life, to get the maximum experience, sometimes you have to leave the safety of your little boat and jump in over your head.
Becky "Sha" Shamen