Awesome: How Living Underwater Sculptures Give Coral Reefs a Needed Boost


Like tiny hunched-back grandmas and grandpas crumbling with osteoporosis, our shelled brethren of the sea are literally dissolving due to massive acidification of our oceans. Last week, Science (// published findings of an acidification rate exceeding anything the earth has witnessed in the last 300 million years. Yikes. That not only means that surf and turf will be reduced to turf, but that incredible sources of inspiration and underwater vacation photos – coral reefs – will be reduced to brown muck. Since coral reefs support one-quarter of the ocean’s species, their transformation into brown muck is bad news for all of us.


Artists to the rescue! Wait, what? Artists? You mean oceanographers? Geologists? Some kind of scientists for sure. Nope. Artists.  


Inspired by a material called BioRock® that can chemically accrete calcium carbonate (aka coral reef bodies) onto metal structures Colleen Flanigan, a fine artist and TED Fellow, is creating elegant sculptures that, when submerged onto the ocean floor, become living art. By using an electric current, BioRock raises the pH of seawater, which attracts limestone minerals, allowing coral to grow two to six times faster than normal. 


Last year Colleen was selected to contribute a piece to Museo Subacuático de Arte (MUSA), the world’s first underwater museum, located in the waters outside of Cancun. The project’s mission is to provide an alternative attraction for the 750,000 tourists visiting the National Marine Park to allow the natural reefs some breathing room. She traveled to Mexico and constructed a 15’x2'x9' double helix sculpture, which will be submerged and added to the museum, provided the successful completion of her Kickstarter campaign next week. It will be one of MUSA’s over 400 existing sculptures slowly being populated by coral and marine life, attracting thousands of visitors, and educating locals and tourists alike about the importance and fragility of this beautiful ecosystem. 


Just goes to show that art just might be our saving grace. 


For more information:

TEDx Woods Hole



AlterNet / By Darci Andresen

Posted at March 10, 2012, 3:00am

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