Located outside Bundaberg on Queensland’s coast, the Mon Repos locality supports the largest concentration of nesting marine turtles on the eastern Australian mainland and has the most significant loggerhead turtle nesting population in the South Pacific region. The Mon Repos Turtle Center has long hosted tours during breeding season, allowing visitors to see nesting sea turtles on the beach at night and hatchlings emerging from their nests.
Recently, the Center underwent a $22 million renovation, with the goal of turning it into a year-round attraction. Opening just in time for the latest season, the revamped facility relies on AV technology to provide a state-of-the-art experience that fully immerses visitors in marine turtle research and conservation. The upgraded space is packed with interactive touchscreen monitors and tablets, new digital signage, two monumental LED walls, external LED signage and its crown jewel: an immersive theater that recreates the turtle nesting and hatchling experience. The high-tech makeover was provided by exhibit design and build company Focus Productions, in partnership with RTI integrator Code Red Smart Technology.
The Turtle Center’s new theater consists of four LED screens on the walls and ceiling, joining together to occupy a total of 100 square meters. Synchronized custom content from six BrightSign digital signage players is delivered by a combination of LED video walls and Epson projectors, while surround sound is provided by two Powersoft 4-channel amplifiers. Outside the theater, the facility features over 20 Philips commercial monitors and touchscreens ranging from 32 inches to 55 inches, LED walls comprised of custom metal frames and Absen panels, with content delivered via onboard android systems with internet connectivity or through Bright Sign players. Additional equipment includes eight NovaStar LED controller units, two Kramer presentation scaler/ switchers, and a DMX lighting controller
During the project’s planning stages, a primary concern was providing simple, intuitive control over the Turtle Center’s technology, which would be operated by park rangers and volunteers with varying levels of tech savviness. A solution was required that would automate the powering on and off of the facility’s systems, while allowing staff to easily select the content they wished to play, operate the complex equipment in the theater, and make system changes on the fly as needed. In addition, park rangers wanted the ability to send “group call” notifications to selected displays simultaneously to announce a turtle nesting or hatching event. Finally, Code Red required remote monitoring and troubleshooting capabilities, as its offices are a six-hour drive from the Center. To meet all of the requirements, the company relied on control solutions from RTI.
The upgraded Turtle Center has been a big hit with guests and staff alike. Visitors are blown away by the immersive theater and massive amount of screens located throughout the space, which really enhance the learning experience. And park rangers love the ease of use and level of customization we were able to provide — from color schemes to the group call functionality. We wouldn’t have been able to achieve that as easily with other control solutions, and many aren’t capable of doing it at all.
Of course, the real winners are the turtles. In the end, all of this high-end technology is working to protect these amazing creatures.