As a result of climate change, natural reefs in the world’s oceans are dying. To provide safe ecosystems for aquatic life, innovators have begun creating artificial reefs, which range from subway cars to underwater sculptures. Perhaps the neatest we’ve ever seen is the BVI Art Reef.
The stunning artificial reef is made of a WWII fuel barge, topped by an elaborate 80-foot mesh Kraken. The reef — also referred to as the Kodiak Queen — exists to promote the growth of transplanted coral. According to Colossal, the BVI Art Reef is open to divers, as well as marine scientists and local students from the British Virgin Islands.
Reportedly, the ship is one of five that fought at Pearl Harbor. Before photographer Owen Buggy discovered the historically significant barge, it was set to be scrapped. Once the idea was presented to Sir Richard Branson, who lives on Necker Island, however, it was quickly saved.
“It’s envisioned that within just a short space of time the ship and artwork will attract a myriad of sea creatures,” said Clive Petrovic who consults on the environmental impact of the BVI Art Reef. “Everything from corals to sea sponges, sharks and turtles will live on, in, and around the wreck. The ship will become valuable for future research by scientists and local students alike.”
On April 2017, after years of research and careful planning, the Kodiak Queen was sunk into the Caribbean Sea. The project was submerged off the coast of the island Virgin Gorda with the help of the Commercial Dive Services. Colossal reports that this was the first time in nearly 18 years the ship had been in the water. Now, it has a final resting place by a throng of boats and helicopters.
Branson’s nonprofit Unite B.V.I., artist group Secret Samurai Productions, social justice entrepreneurial group Maverick1000, and ocean education nonprofit Beneath the Waves all collaborated to create a structure that will attract divers and cultivate a healthy ecosystem. The structure also exists to raise awareness about environmental issues, including overfishing, plastic pollution, and chemical waste.
Plenty of thought went into the artificial reef to ensure it works in harmony with the current ecosystem. The Kraken will foster coral growth that will feed and house local species — including the overfished Goliath Grouper. When photographer Michael Shronk visited the structure in July, signs of life were already present on the reef. The images show coral growing on the mesh and local fish swimming around the giant tentacles.
Said Branson, “The BVI Art Reef gives us a unique platform to capture people’s attention on the importance of addressing ocean conservation and in particular, combat climate change, protect our coral reefs, and rehabilitate vulnerable marine species. This is an incredible opportunity to create one of the most meaningful dive sites in the world.”
Following are photos of the magnificent installation:
Since it was sunk in April 2017, nature has already claimed it as her own.
Filmmaker Rob Sorrenti filmed the construction and sinking of the Kraken and its ship. At present, a full-length documentary is in post-production. Its release is expected early next year. Below is a clip from the upcoming film: