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Australia’s Great Barrier Reef home to underwater art

News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Sun, July 28, 2019  /  08:37 pm
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef home to underwater art

An aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of the Whitsunday Islands, along the central coast of Queensland on Nov. 20, 2014. (AFP/Sarah Lai)

British environmentalist and sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor is creating the Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA), which will host an array submerged and semi-submerged sculptures and installations with the goal of regenerating coral and marine life at the Great Barrier Reef. 

The innovative collection will be located in several locations along the coast of Queensland, such as in Townsville and on Palm and Magnetic islands. 

Highlights of known so far include a “coral greenhouse”, a 12-meter structure that will help reinvigorate coral and attract marine life. Another is a 5-meter-high sculpture titled Ocean Siren, which sits on the water’s surface and will change color depending on the temperature at the Great Barrier Reef and will be solar-powered. 

Temperature loggers located around the reef, which were set in place by the Australian Institute of Marine Science, will compile data and the changes in temperature represented by the colors of the statue will be instantaneous. 

Read also: Australia approves vast coal mine near Great Barrier Reef

DeCaires Taylor hopes this collection will initiate and guide public debate about environmental policies. He believes his underwater museum will be able to change the way people think of the seafloor, hoping it will send the message that we must protect it instead of take it for granted. 

This museum is not unprecedented. The creator has had projects in areas such as the Gili Islands in Indonesia and Cancún. He created the first sculpture park ever in 2006, located in Grenada.  

His projects not only impact marine life in the area but also locals in the surrounding area. For example, part of the collection will include an installation near Palm Island, which will provide an economic boost in the area as a result of the tourism that follows. It is believed that when the site opens in August 2020 in Coolgaree Bay, access will only be though granted official tour guides.

Locals have not always been enthusiastic about his projects, as one of his works in the Maldives was demolished because the local government believed the artwork was a “threat to Islamic unity”. 

The goal of this upcoming project is to reflect DeCaires Taylor’s ambition and determination to inform the public of the climate change crisis. DeCaires Taylor told The Guardian, “Our oceans are going through rapid change, and there are huge threats, from rising sea temperatures to acidification, and a large amount of pollution entering the system.” 

In anticipation of the dangers of over-tourism, DeCaires added that the Museum of Underwater Art would look to attract more local tourists than foreign ones, as well as provide electric powerboats to reach the artwork. Both national and local governments have funded this project and are working in association with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. (sal/kes)

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