Scuba, Sculptures, Sustainability

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Ooc 721 Aq Jason De Caires Taylor Credit2 Sm

Ooj 721 Aq Matt Curnock Credit7 Sm

A sculpture artist's innovative work is helping to renew marine life in the Great Barrier Reef.

Jason deCaires Taylor is known for his use of submerged marine environments as media. His latest work is no exception: Through installations at the Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA), he's working to raise awareness and actively promote the conservation of Australia's coral reefs.

Accessible only by boat (and diving gear), the Coral Greenhouse at John Brewer Reef is the largest segment of the MOUA array. It features 20 sculptures depicting marine science students, called "reef guardians." Each figure is crafted using non-toxic, pH-neutral, marine-grade cement, an ideal surface for coral larvae to attach and inhabit. As the coral grows, the sculptures will transform into a functioning ecosystem, making each visit to this underwater collection a unique experience.

Only one piece of the museum is visible above water: the Ocean Siren, modeled after 12-year-old Takoda Johnson, a member of the local Wulgurukaba people. It's a reminder of the impacts of climate change on the reef: The statue's 202 LED lights change color in response to the ocean's temperature, shifting from dark to light blue, yellow, orange and red. When the water gets too warm, corals react by expelling the algae that provide nutrients and give them their vibrant colors. This is known as coral bleaching. Most corals starve without the algae, forcing wildlife to move away and leaving a barren underwater landscape behind.

To continue spreading awareness, the next phase of the MOUA project will involve installations at Magnetic and Palm Islands. The Palm Island sculptures are expected to be completed by the end of 2021.


This article first appeared in the July 2021 issue of AQUA Magazine β€” the top resource for retailers, builders and service pros in the pool and spa industry. Subscriptions to the print magazine are free to all industry professionals. Click here to subscribe.

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