There is a fantastic opportunity coming in the Bahamas, it is to be part of a new coral reef statue garden. This is being organised by BREEF. They are selling three sizes of “Reef Balls” and four sizes of statue. So depending on how deep your pockets are there is an option for you, even if it is just a simple donation. It will provide an artificial reef for tourists who will be able to visit it and snorkel and dive it.
Here is some more information on the project.
The main goals of this newly proposed project are to encourage sustainable use of coral reef ecosystem services and goods and to increase awareness of coral reefs, and their threats with special emphasis on the impacts of habitat loss and climate change. The activities of the project will increase awareness of the mechanism, causes, and impacts of climate change on coral reefs and coastal areas by using a multimedia approach in order to reach out to all age groups. The activities will be designed to reach a variety of target groups including schools, community groups, the dive industry, and the general public countrywide. The outcomes will provide an avenue for the both visitors and locals to be actively engaged in protecting, rehabilitating and mitigating coral reef loss. Project objectives include:
• To rehabilitate coral reefs in coastal habitats by increasing the structural complexity and biodiversity through the installation of an artificial reef in western New Providence’s nearshore environment to mitigate coral reef damage and or loss through: climate change, ship groundings etc.
• Fostering the development of behaviours and strategies to minimize, adapt to or mitigate the negative impacts of coral reef habitat loss and climate change on The Bahamas’ marine environment, and economic activities through experiential and/or place-based learning.
The installation of an artistically rendered artificial reef will provide an excellent opportunity for engaging students during field trips, and for conducting citizen science projects while providing an opportunity to utilize coral fragments produced in local nurseries or transplants salvaged from in areas targeted for development. The artificial reef may also attract tourists to the Bahamas by offering a unique eco-sensitive experience helping to support the local economy. BREEF is currently in discussions with Bahamian artist Willicey Tynes http://www.tynesart.com, and experts in this field, Kathy Kirbo of the Reef Ball Foundation http://www.reefball.org and Jason deCaires Taylor to ensure the success of the project. This project builds upon the expertise and lessons learned from already established installations by Jason deCaires Taylor http://www.underwatersculptures.com in Grenada and Mexico. The living art sculptures on the artificial reef will be produced by local artists using a variety of firmly anchored sculptures. The sculptures will be produced from environmentally sensitive materials that are conducive to the growth of corals.
Natural coral reefs grow very slowly, the advantage of an artificial reef is that it instantly provides the structural complexity required to quickly attract fish and other motile organisms so that the site is attractive to snorkel and dive enthusiasts not only for its artistic value, but also for its biodiversity. It is anticipated that the reef will become colonized with sessile organisms in the longer term. Thus this aspect of the project provides an avenue to establish long term monitoring and training opportunities helping to build local much needed capacity locally for skilled personnel to conduct coral reef assessments throughout the archipelago. It is anticipated that the artificial reef will be attractive to dive businesses and will offer an alternate location for use by dive companies helping to reduce some of the pressure from the natural reef systems in the area. Moreover, this project which will be designed so that it can be expanded in a modular manner and replicated throughout the Bahamian archipelago and the region as a method of mitigating for coral reef losses due to habitat loss from development, ship groundings and climate change.
Livelihoods in The Bahamas are inextricably linked to healthy coral reefs which are increasingly impacted by habitat loss due to direct damage from construction and shipping activity as well as warmer ocean temperatures and by ocean acidification – direct impacts of climate change. This project seeks to bring much needed attention to this important issue that affects not only the global community, but especially to SIDS and most importantly to low-lying island nations like The Bahamas.