Underwater Museum And Its Attempt To Save The Coral Reef

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Jason deCaires Taylor, an instructor in diving, has been creating for the past 12 years. His wanderings known as ‘paparazzo’ along with a set of theatrical designers motivated him towards realizing all his unfulfilled and fragmented aspects. Taylor had envisioned such an artistic life since his art school. Soon he found love and a potent connection with the oceans that surrounded him in Malaysia during childhood. Consequently, he decided to bring a change by purchasing a small center for diving in the Caribbean and is creating an underwater museum.

Soon after he discovered that two of his greatest passions⸺ art and ocean⸺ are not mutually exclusive. Taylor informed that the intersection between art and ocean created excitement within him and he decided to explore this unknown terrain. He also wrote a book titled ‘Underwater Museum’. In the book, he wrote that he swiftly realized his passion for creating art over instructing scuba diving that might facilitate marine ecology.


Although there are almost 8% shallow seas in the oceans all over the world, they are considered essential to the conservation of marine life. Furthermore, marine life is faced with the constant threat of disappearing, especially the coral reefs. The coral reefs shelter thriving ecosystems in which thousands of aquatic species reside that estimate to nearly 25% of marine life.

The deterioration of coral reefs will trigger ocean acidification that has already increased 30% since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. An estimated 40% of coral reefs seem to have exponentially decayed in a span of a few decades. This took place while the oceans absorb skyrocketing amounts of carbon emitted from human activities. Scientists have warned that roughly 80% of coral reefs may vanish by 2050.

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Ecologically-Supportive Underwater Museum

The majority of the ocean floor does not seem stable enough to support reefs. As a result, Taylor has built artificial reefs in the underwater museum to encourage marine ecosystems to flourish. He did this by placing statues at various underwater points ranging from 4 to 9 meters. These statues are as diverse as the existing ecosystems as well as the one he intends to foster. His underwater museum is divided into several parts that correspond to the statues strategically placed at different points.

Few of the statues represent groups of humans standing, some are looking upwards while some gazing downwards in the ‘Vicissitudes’ segment. Many of the statues in this underwater museum off Grenada coast depict ‘Un-Still Life’ by displaying inanimate objects like table, stones, a pitcher that is waiting for nature to reclaim them.

Underground Museum

Credits Jason deCaires Taylor

‘Inertia’ consists of statues sunk 4 meters deep near the Punta Nizuc in Mexico and features a shirtless, sloven man. The man is eating a hamburger while watching television mainly symbolizes humankind’s apathy seen for global warming. Nonetheless, the statues have both symbolic features as well as a reality. The ‘Anthropocene’ segment features a Volkswagen beetle that acts as an artistic vision of the consumption of fossil fuel. On the other hand, the beetle has a hollow interior that serves as an extremely practical space of living for crustaceans like lobsters.

Benefits Of Art & Ocean Amalgamation

The underwater museum acts as a stable foundation for the formation of artificial reefs that help marine life in 2 ways: firstly, by creating a system of reef that allows life to flourish, and secondly, it takes off the pressure from natural reefs that are over-visited and over-fished. The underwater artwork of Taylor promotes the growth of algae that further prevents coral bleaching. The bleaching takes place due to warming waters which brings fatal consequences for the coral.

Underground Museum

Credits Jason deCaires Taylor

Moreover, the algae are already thriving on the installations in ‘Vicissitudes’ that depict a few children holding hands in a circular form that symbolizes the life cycle. As of now, he has created many hundreds of statues underwater stretching from Mexico to Spain. The main objective of Taylor to promote the collaboration of art and reef growth through his underwater museum is significant. The sculptures are made from the cement of marine grade that lacks any other substance like metals that might harm marine ecology.

Taylor makes his sculptures rough in texture that allows a strong foothold of coral larvae. According to him, the curves of sculptures and statue shapes promote marine life to grow in the gaps and crevices. The ‘Silent Evolution’ segment has installations of 450 statues of human figures that create a shelter for fishes. Snappers are often seen hovering near the statues and swiftly taking shelter against a predator in some crevice. The locations of these installations for the underwater museum have been carefully chosen to keep downstream in mind that enables easy movements by coral larvae along with other marine species.

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Positive Human Intervention In Marine Life

The underwater museum statues are created above water and thoroughly cleaned of all possible harmful chemicals. The statues are hauled underwater with the use of lifting rigs especially made for them. Finally, they are sunk into places permanently. A 40-ton crane had to be used to place the 450 figures in the ‘Silent Evolution’ segment. Some of the statues including the Volkswagen beetle are so heavy that advanced lift bags had to be used to place them.

As soon as the statues were placed on the seafloor, they would be drilled in their places with the use of pilings and advanced hydraulic drills. Taylor had to get a green signal from the Forestry & Fisheries, Agriculture, and Tourism Ministry in order to place the 1st installation near the Grenada coast. Apart from helping marine life, artificial reefs also keep snorkelers and numerous divers away from the natural reefs. Snorkelers and divers might also bump into the statues while the underwater museum may damage the naturally growing ability of the reefs.

Image Featured: Jason deCaires Taylor

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