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At first glance, Jason deCaires Taylor's sculptures seem quite ordinary - After all any artist worth his/her salt can carve out figures, cars and even design suburban looking homes. However, look closer and you will realize that all these have been carefully crafted not just for humans to admire, but also, for marine life to thrive in.
The British artist first began sculpting artificial marine reefs in 2006, when he created an underwater sculpture park off the shores of Grenada's Moliniere Bay. Comprising of 66 cement and steel sculptures that were bolted to the sea floor, they initially appeared to be a little eerie - Not something snorkelers and divers in search of the natural coral reef the area is known for, would be seeking out. Fast-forward six years and the park has become one of the most popular tourist attractions of the West Indies Islands.
That's because the cold-looking sculptures that have been treated with a pH-reducing additive to make them coral-friendly have now transformed into a beautiful artificial reef with pink and red coral polyps growing all around their previously smooth bodies. In addition to that they are also home to several small fish and other organisms. Though the complete transformation to hard coral could take anywhere between 10-80 year, this is already beautiful enough for most tourists.
Following the success of this man-made reef Jason was commissioned to create a similar underground marine park in the waters near Cancun, Mexico, In late 2010, 400 figures were lowered into the waters of the National Marine Park of Cancun, Isla Mujeres and Punta Nixuc.
But unlike the project near Grenada this, was just the first phase of the artist's 'The Silent Evolution' project carved for a new underwater museum called MUSA (Museo Subacuatico de Arte). Soon after the humans sculptures, Jason added a mode of transport to the museum - A beetle Volkswagen with a young girl curled up and sleeping upon its hood. Inside, are tiny compartments that lobsters can call home.
However, it's his latest creations installed earlier this month that will provide a real sanctuary because believe it or not, it comprises of two suburban looking homes! As you have probably guessed, while the $200,000 USD sculptures may seem like normal abodes, they have been built especially with their future tenants in mind.
First as is the case with all of Jason's sculptures, they are have been constructed out of PH neutral cement to provide an overall coral friendly environment. The chimney on the roof serves as a special tubular area to house moray eels, while the specially textured roof encourages coral polyp settlement. And, it gets even better.
Step inside the house and you will see different sections all built with specific sea creatures in mind. The smaller house contains dark cavernous cavities where Puffer Fish and Squirrel fish can take refuge, while the larger one is divided into two areas - A flat dark place for crustaceans like crabs and lobsters and a room fitted with mesh where young fish can seek shelter, if being pursued by larger predators! Who would have thought that so many different inhabitants could survive under one 'roof' literally!
Jason whose other passions are diving and graffiti art, said he has always lived close to the sea and is therefore quite zealous about marine life. He came up with idea of creating these artificial reefs, after observing the dire situation that natural reefs all over the world were facing, thanks to careless human behavior. His structures not only provide marine life with new sanctuaries, but also, help distract humans from the natural reefs, which will hopefully allow them to recover. To see more of the artist's amazing sculptures go to www.underwatersculpture.com
Resources: Designboom.com,underwatersculpture.com, carribeantravelmag.com,