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article imageNew underwater sculpture park aims to save Mexico's coral reef

By Stephanie Dearing     Apr 9, 2010 in Travel
It's called an underwater museum, but the purpose of this unique underwater sculpture park off the coast of Mexico is to protect existing coral reefs from tourists.
Cancun, Mexico - The underwater museum is so unique, the statuary such an exquisite contrast with the environment, it is sure to draw the attention of divers and snorkelers for years to come. This is not the first such project of artist Jason de Caires Taylor. The British artist began installing an underwater sculpture park off the coast of Grenada, West Indies in 2006, garnering rave reviews. That work is still ongoing, with a new sculpture created by a local artist installed in March 2010.
Mexican park managers were seeking a way to provide tourists with diving and snorkeling opportunities while protecting the fragile coral reef at the same time. The park in Grenada has been described as "... stunning and unique" "beautiful marine seascapes."
Mexico's coral reefs found near Cancun are loved by divers and snorkelers. The reef, known as the Mesoamerican reef, is one of the oldest reefs in the world, and is the world's second largest. The reefs have been in trouble for years, damaged by storms, human economic activity and tourists. Mexico has been faced with a two-pronged problem, needing to preserve tourism and the reef. The underwater museum provided the perfect compromise.
de Caires Taylor's "... sculptures highlight ecological processes whilst exploring the intricate relationships between modern art and the environment. By using sculptures to create artificial reefs, the artist’s interventions promote hope and recovery, and underline our need to understand and protect the natural world." de Caires Taylor designs his sculptures to encourage interaction with people of all ages, whether they are in the water or on the surface. The first installation phase is nearly completed, with 100 pieces being put in. June 2010 will see the second phase begin, where another 200 pieces will be installed. The third and final phase will have 400 more sculptures installed by the end of the year, according to de Caires Taylor's website.
The artist uses a special low-acid concrete for his sculptures. Over time, the sculptures will act as the base for an artificial reef.
Cancun aims to provide the world's largest underwater museum.
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