Art’s new wave: Fiji turns to underwater sculptures to restore its bleached reefs
In the turquoise waters of Nacula Island, Fiji, steel sculptures sit on the seafloor, adorned with coral. The artworks are part of a pioneering conservation effort to help grow and restore coral reefs as they face the threat of bleaching due to warmer seas.
The installation, built of marine-grade stainless steel to withstand saltwater corrosion, consists of 137 structures and houses 30 different species of coral. It is designed to rehabilitate coral and to collect genetic material from the organisms that could help develop more climate-resistant varieties.
Not-for-profit group Counting Coral developed the project it describes as the world’s first sculptural coral bank. The group’s founder Jolyon Collier says the installation blends his love of art, the ocean and Fiji – where for the past 13 years, he has witnessed the impacts of coral bleaching.
“It’s all pristine coral, and then you watch those reefs start to die off. That is shocking to me and scary,” says Collier.