Visitors to the West Indies can explore a fascinating dive site that should be on everybody’s Bucket List – the wondrous and whimsical underwater sculpture garden and gallery that reflects the region’s culture and is a thriving habitat for marine life.
Sculptor and scuba diving instructor, Jason deCaires Taylor marshalled the government, local dive centre and marine biologists to bring his concept of an underwater sculpture garden to life in the waters of Molinere Bay, in the Caribbean Sea off the west coast of Grenada, the West Indies.
Taylor cast giant cement sculptures that weigh thousands of pounds and sunk them into the ocean in areas with barren seabeds to encourage marine life to venture back into these man-made and whimsical habitats and to attract tourists to other areas away from fragile and over-visited reefs in the region.
“Grenada has only one bay that’s good for snorkeling, Flamingo Bay, so everybody goes to this one pristine place and the damage was bad,” he said. “The whole idea was for it to become a portal to another world. I want it to inspire people to understand more about our oceans and the threats facing them.”
Currently home to 75 sculptures, covering an area of 800-square-metres and located two miles north of the capital St Georges on the west coast of the island, within an area designated a National Marine Park, the Bay is enclosed by rock headlands and has a small beach at one end.
Molinere Bay suffered considerable storm damage from Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and Emily in 2005, and the placement of artificial structures has provided a new base for marine life to proliferate.
The sculptures are situated in a variety of depths of water with a maximum of 12 metres, and the park is visited daily by scuba divers, snorkelers and glass bottom boats.The sculptures were specifically designed to promote coral growth using techniques to reduce the pH of the cement and by applying a textured surface. This encourages coral polyps to attach onto the surface and eventually the structure becomes a sanctuary for marine life. Already Taylor’s sculptures have been shown to be a home to an array of aquatic life, including, flounders, parrot fish, Branded coral shrimp and fire worms.
Drawing on the tradition of figurative imagery, the aim of Jason de Caires Taylor’s work is to address a wide-ranging audience crucial for highlighting environmental issues beyond the confines of the art world. However, fundamental to understanding his work is that it embodies the hope and optimism of a regenerative, transformative Nature.
Since his first project in Molinere Bay, Jason deCaires Taylor has created several more underwater galleries, including Cancun, Mexico; Nassau in the Bahamas; Lanzarote; the River Thames and Canterbury, England.