New Statue in Place for Underwater Sculpture Gallery in Marseille

There is another underwater wonder in the works off the coast of Marseille in France. Currently, the 9 th out of 10 sculptures has been installed and this attraction is just 100m off the Plage des Catalans.

The attraction was inspired by the work of Jason deCaires Taylor, a British sculptor. Currently, it is available for free viewing to anyone provided you wear a snorkel and mask. However, this was subject for inspection by the French administration.

Environmental issues of underwater sculptures

The administration has finally given clearance to open the site after 4 years. An association was also assigned to take them to the highest court according to Antony Lacanaud, founder of Musee Subaquatique.

The gallery is located in an underwater museum where powerboats are banned. The sculptures are also being checked by scientists for  underwater animals and plants that they attract.

The association also insisted that the concrete used for the making of such sculptures could damage the environment.

Monitoring the 9th sculpture

Sculpture maker Thierry Trives called his work Resilience, which is equipped with a camera and other sensors for monitoring underwater temperature, force of currents, and clarity.

The sculptures were also tested for 1 week before being removed for further improvements, which are due for replacement in September 2021. According to Lacanaud, the sculptures are underwater for 8 months, and they already noticed some animals and plants around them.

People even commented they look unloved, which require cleaning. However, it is part of the project to let them stay and observed what type of organisms will colonize them.

Research institutes are invited to the museum to make school visits to the site. One of their main goals is raising of awareness for environmental issues that involve oceans and seas.

Managing pollution in coastal areas

Tourism takes place almost entirely in coastal areas with popular destinations that include beaches and coral reefs. Thus, it can pose a threat to marine life causing damage due to increased human interaction and marine traffic with fragile species.

Moreover, many species suffer directly from pollution due to plastic waste attracting toxic chemicals from agriculture and industry.

Environmental benefits of underwater sculptures

A host of marine species get attracted to artificial reefs, which can help support the entire marine ecosystem. Such sculptures are designed one-by-one using safe pH neutral materials. These are textured surfaces that are able to create homes, breeding areas, and protective spaces.

The sculptures are permanent structures fixed onto the seabed to avoid displacement by adverse weather conditions. These are commonly installed far from natural healthy reef systems along the barren stretches of the seabed to draw visitors away from natural areas.

These allow them to recover on their own accord and also help marine biologists to monitor and document a reef developing from inception. The projects made by deCaires Taylor is aimed at ushering a new  era for tourism to consider beaches as more than just sunny paradise spots but also living ecosystems.


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