The Art of Ocean Science
While swimming through an artificial reef, it is often difficult to tell where natural reef and human-made structures begin and end. Even a newly established artificial reef becomes rapidly overgrown with coral and marine life. The potential of artificial reefs to contribute to ocean conservation is being studied intently by many ocean scientists. Several different forms of artificial reefs are being tried and implemented with varying degrees of success. In some areas, artificial coral structures such as coral antlers and reef balls are being established onto reefs and in other areas, shipwrecks are being used extensively as artificial reef habitat.
Underwater sculpture gardens are one of the newest forms of artificial reef, established to help promote healthy coral growth and increase the 3D structure of a marine community. Sculpture gardens have taken what has traditionally been land-based art, and incorporated it into the underwater world. Sculpture gardens usually consist of several sunken underwater sculptures that are deployed in an area to promote the coral growth and to provide habitat for marine life. These sculpture gardens have proven to be successful in encouraging an increase in marine biodiversity in an area. Many coral reef studies have shown that an increase in habitat complexity means an increase in biodiversity of a reef which increases the entire reef community’s resilience and health. It is for this reason that underwater sculpture gardens are so successful as an artificial reef for they provide ample complex 3D structure in which fish and other marine organisms can make their home.
Jason DeCaires Taylor is the mastermind behind the new movement of underwater sculpture museums, and he has been creating these underwater museums in countries around the world, from his first one ever in Grenada, to his most recent one in Norway. Jason often uses his sculptures to relay a strong message of the urgent need for ocean conservation. One of his most well-known sculptures is located in Nassau, Bahamas. It is known for its direct and beautiful message. This sculpture is called the Ocean Atlas and stands 21-feet tall. It is a sculpture of a young girl kneeling under the surface of the water and holding up the weight of the oceans on her shoulders. This sculpture clearly describes the role that the young generation plays in safe-guarding the oceans.
As girls in ocean science we can heed the call of this young girl holding up the weight of the oceans and do our part in contributing to ocean conservation. Each of us can contribute in our own ways whether it be from research, organizing ocean clean ups, pushing for policy change, improving fisheries science or finding more areas where art and ocean conservation can intersect. We each play an important role in safeguarding the future of our world. It is time to get out there and join the Ocean Atlas in her mission to protect the oceans.