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Dive below the surface of Indonesian waters past population of sea turtles where human-sized sculptures await to become a coral reef

Words: Aleksandra Georgieva

Photography: Victor Ene

12 June 2020

Ever wondered what could save the coral reefs near Indonesia? We find the unconventional answer in the underwater sculptures where divers can swim alongside exotic fish today.

Deep below the water surface, a hauntingly beautiful spot awaits divers where human figures are yet to become a coral reef. Between Bali and Lombok, just off the coast of the small island of Gili Meno are the underwater sculptures expected to restore the coral reef life of the seafloor around Indonesia.

A well-known underwater sculptor, Jason deCaires Taylor, created the 48 life-size figures. Standing together in a circular formation, the sculptures represent the circle of life that merges within the surrounding marine ecosystem. Taylor creates his piece with the clear mind set of the location being an environmental space. His figures are placed on the ocean floor, with the expectation of soft corals and sponges to flourish around them quickly, paving the way for delicate and hard corals to grow in the future, establishing a coral reef.

In recent decades around 40 per cent of the world’s coral reefs have been lost. In a statement Taylor shares his hopes that his piece will remind people of the fragility of the coral and fellow marine ecosystems.

“Nest is also a bridge between the human and marine worlds. It’s accessible to anyone and is just a short swim from a beach open to all. I hope people will visit it both as a piece of art and as an entrance point to the underwater world” Taylor says in a statement.

More than 300 works of Jason deCaires Taylor make up the exhibits in the Spanish Museo Atlantico, the first underwater museum in Europe. Visitors can observe his sculptures from glass-bottomed boats, while learning about climate change’s impact on marine life. Other places where his sculptures are on display include the Canary Islands, the Caribbean and even the river Thames in his homeland of the UK.

The man-made reef is located in shallow waters, just off an Indonesian beach. The place is a swimming distance away from the luxury beach resort of BASK, Gili Meno. Curiously, the island is inhabited by only 500 locals. The area is known for its delicate marine environment, home to a rich ecosystem and population of sea turtles. With the marine environment’s sustainability in mind, Taylor created his sculpture off real people’s casts, made from a pH neutral, environmental-grade concrete. Within a year a coral reef system is expected to form and continue to expand over time.


  • If you have a certificate in scuba, you can also dive at the installations helping marine life in the Underwater Museum of Art in the Gulf of Mexico in Florida, US.

  • An underwater trial, exploring sunken ships awaits divers in California’s Lake Tahoe.

  • In Europe the Maltese Archipelago, one of the best diving locations on Earth, has also launched a new diving trail.



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