4 striking living sculptures under Bali and Lombok sea
Divers in Bali and around the archipelago would have noticed that in the past year or so there have been some interesting additions to the underwater environment.
A motorcycle and mermaid are two of the artificial reefs-come-art installations that are the brainchild of Cecilia Gregory, an artist and environmentalist, and The Marine Foundation.
Gregory founded the Marine Foundation in 2009, and it is supported by The Roddick Foundation (www.theroddickfoundation.org) to develop programs in Indonesia.
The Marine Foundation’s approach to marine conservation employs art as a message and catalyst for conservation, sustainable resource management and social change.
Bespoke underwater sculptures are created in conjunction with clients and sponsors, to be used as marine habitats by acting as coral and fish nurseries.
There are four striking “living sculptures of the sea” accessible for both novice and professional divers.
1. The Coral Goddess, Pemuteran, Bali
The Coral Goddess is located in Pemuteran, northern Bali. It borders the marine park and Menjangan Island that is teeming with a myriad of colorful marine life and is one of the best dive sites in Bali.
Ironically, this is also where reef structures were practically non existent due to extensive dynamite and cyanide fishing.
The Karang Lestari coral reef restoration project rejuvenated the reef using the Bio-rock method to enhance coral growth and survival rates. Bio- rock uses Electrolytic Mineral Accretion Technology, which uses a current from the shore that sends the pulse underwater to attract fish and coral to use the structure as a habitat.
This area is unique in Bali due to the lack of strong currents and extensive areas of shallow coral reef that makes it perfect for divers and snorkelers to enjoy the vast underwater world that lies here. Since 2000 Bio-Rock Pemuteran Bay, Bali has installed more than sixty structures to restore the reef and attract species back into the area.
You can take an underwater guided tour of the project with one of their guides or for a truly immersive holiday, take the bio-rock course, taught by Komang and offered by PADI. This can be done at the Bali Dive Academy.
In 2011, the Coral Goddess was added as an ethereal addition to this unique man made reef project.
Designed by Celia, it was submerged on May 2nd after a Balinese ceremony, using holy water collected from several important temples, including Melanting and Pulaki. According to local beliefs, this suffuses the goddess with power to protect the seas and those that live in her waters.
2. Deus Motorbike, Gili Trawangan
The Gilis are famous for diving and their fun loving, carefree attitude. With this spirit in mind, a collaboration was made between the Marine Foundation, the custom motorcycle company Deus and the Bio-rock® restoration method.
A custom motorbike was made in the Deus ‘Temple of Enthusiasm’ in Canggu and transported over to Gili, where it was reassembled and submerged at a depth of five meters off the coast.
This installation is maintained and managed by The Gili Eco Trust, an N.G.O run by Delphine Robbe dedicated to preserving the fragile reefs that ring the Gili Islands.
The reefs are under constant threat from damage and degradation due to increased tourist numbers, pollution, boats, storms and various environmental factors.
3. Tugu Dragon
The dragon was commissioned by the Tugu Hotel in Lombok for their house reef.
The reef is a feast of colors and perfect for snorkeling. A dragon was chosen as a mythological creature that is used to protect areas.
Floating above the sculpture is a pontoon with solar panels to power the electrical pulse of the artwork, as well as providing a sun bathing spot and marker where the dragon is located 100m offshore, which is great after a pretty long swim.
Local Balinese sculptor I Ketut Putrayasa crafted the head of the dragon, and the body is composed of metal rebar that contorts and twists into the majestic form of a magical sea creature. In turn the body also acts as the habitat and abode of the other creatures in its midst.
4. Mermaid, Amed, Bali
In the 1980’s Amed boasted some of the most pristine reefs in Bali, but has come under immense and sudden stress with coral being harvested as a substitute for cement.
Around the same time fishing nets were also introduced for fishing, and the fishermen, far from realizing the impact, were happy their nets were not snagged in coral anymore. Needless to say there were very few fish left in their nets too.
A number of underwater structures have been put placed there the last ten years, such as the underwater post office in 2011. These have not been widely publicized and are often missed by visiting divers.
Reef Check Indonesia is currently running a new sustainable management practice and hoping to attract more visitors to these sites. This coincides with the latest Marine Foundation art piece, the Mermaid, who was sponsored by the Body Shop Indonesia.
The mermaid illuminates the ocean around her, radiating from 10 meters down, 30 meters offshore at Jemeluk Bay. Her shining aura was created using white pH neutral cement and is one of the most exquisitely designed artificial reefs.