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Grenada Underwater Sculptures in Marine Protected Area

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Grenada Underwater Sculptures

We have passed the Moliniere-Beausejour Marine protected area on the leeward side of Grenada, just north of St. George’s, countless times. This year curiosity overcame us and we decided to explore the area. The dual attraction of the site is the Marine Protected Area and the Grenada underwater sculptures

It might seem a contradiction of purposes to allow Grenada underwater sculptures in a Marine Protected Area, but when you don your mask and snorkel, you can see that the underwater sculptures have become part of the ecology of Moliniere Bay. There are 65 sculptures created by Jason de Caires Taylor, a sculptor from England. Some of the Grenada underwater sculptures reflect the history and folklore of Grenada, others are just art but they are all destined to become part of the ocean floor supporting coral, sponges and fish habitat. When the artist came to Grenada he was stuck by the devastation hurricane Ivan had on the reefs and sea floor in Grenadian waters. He combined his two passions of sculpting and SCUBA diving and in 2006 the Grenada underwater sculptures were installed in Moliniere Bay.  The sculptures are dispersed over an area of 800sq meters of sea floor.

The Grenada underwater sculptures are synthesis of art and science. Taylor consulted marine biologists involved in developing artificial reefs for reef restoration projects and has incorporated their materials and designs in his sculptures. The materials promote coral and sponge growth and are Ph neutral.  Many of the sculptures are designed to provide habitat for fish and lobster. As the corals and sponges grow on the sculptures they become part of the underwater environment.

The signature Grenada underwater sculptures is called Vicissitudes which is a circle of 26 life-size children of diverse ethnic background, all holding hands and facing outwards. The Lost Correspondent is a man sitting at his desk, his hands hovering over the typewriter, poised in eternal deliberation. Anthropocene is a life size replica of the classic Volkswagen Beetle that provides habitat for lobster and fish. Inertia depicts a man on a couch watching a television that provides a habitat for juvenile fish.

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Taylor has taken his passion to Mexico and created the world’s largest underwater sculpture museum, MUSA, situated off the coast of Cancun and the western coast of Isla Mujeres has 400 sculptures. Taylor’s work has been categorized as part of the eco-art movement due to the emphasis on biological restoration.

The Moliniere/Beausejour Marine Protected Area (MBMPA) was designated in 2001. It is 60 hectares (0.23 sq. miles), 1.4 miles (2.2km) long. The purpose of the area is to protect the reef and provide a nursery for juvenile fish. The area also provides a focal point for tourism and education for local communities. Many Marine Protected Areas throughout the world have demonstrated that a protected area improves the fishing success in the adjacent non protected areas. The MPAs provide a nursery ground for fish and those fish will disperse into the surrounding waters. The wardens enforce the prohibition on spear and line fishing in the MBMPA. They have also been trained to monitor the reef using internationally accepted methodology.

There are six communities adjacent to the MPA. Stake holders are encouraged to participate in the development and management of the area. Community support is critical to the success of any MPA and one of the first projects was to have a coastal cleanup day to remove trash from the shoreline and underwater locations of the MPA. Anchoring is prohibited and the white mooring balls are for non-commercial use and red balls for commercial use. The cost of a mooring ball for a day is $10.00 USD and there is an additional cost of $1.00 USD for snorkeling and $2.00 for SCUBA use. That is a small fee to pay for the conservation of a marine area.

Although this is a small MPA it is important because it is part of a network of MPAs in the Eastern Caribbean. Marine biologists agree that size matters for Marine Protected Areas, but networks are critical.

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Devi Sharp is a retired wildlife biologist and exploring the Caribbean with her husband, Hunter, on their sailboat Arctic Tern.

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