20 Feb Underwater art for marine conservation
Somewhere in the Bunaken Sea, you’d be forgiven if you said you bumped into a mermaid.
Fairy tales aside, mermaids and other beautiful objects are being sculpted and placed beneath the sea as I write. This artistic project by Luley Dive Centre in Manado, Indonesia, is a way of capturing the beauty of the wild while stimulating a new marine garden full of corals and other sea creatures.
Its artist Celia Gregory of Marine Foundation is all too familiar with the mission of transforming the underwater terrain as she first sank the Love Mermaid in 2016. Instagrammers still visit the site to pose through the heart shaped gap between King & Queen, now looking somewhat ghoulish while encrusted with hard corals.
The site has since expanded into what is hoped to be a fuller coral garden by the end of 2019 with dolphins, fish and other female carvings made out of volcanic rock. In years to come these manmade objects may lend a surreal feel to underwater scenes, but they’ll be a functional habitat to live creatures.
But why sculptures?
“We believe scientific information alone is unable to persuade a good many people, especially children of the reality and complexity of the environmental issues we face… This is where the creative approach can make a difference.” Celia Gregory
There’s a reason for letting art flood the imagination in marine conservation.
A creative approach is a powerful way to engage people in sustainable solutions to environmental issues, believes Gregory. “We believe scientific information alone is unable to persuade a good many people, especially children of the reality and complexity of the environmental issues we face… This is where the creative approach can make a difference.”
“The arts do not show people what to do, yet engaging with a good work of art or story can connect you to your senses, body, and mind. It can make the world felt,” says Gregory.