Saving Coral Reefs One Sculpture at a Time



Artist Jason deCaires Taylor works under the sea to create long-lasting works to help marine life breathe.

“How can we live within the natural environment and not always oppose it?” Taylor told He hopes to create art that can facilitate interactions between people and underwater habitats, to raise awareness on how much change is happening underwater.

“I’m only 40-years-old, but 20 years ago, [the environment] was vastly different,” Taylor said. “And that’s such a tiny, little [time frame], yet we’ve had such dramatic impact. Some of the places I went to when I was young are completely desolated.”

Though Taylor studied sculpture in art college, he ended up working as a scuba diving instructor. Whilst spending time teaching in waters, Taylor studied marine ecology. He always envisioned his work in an outdoor space, so it was natural for Taylor to consider creating art in the ocean.

“Some of the works are activism pieces, so they’ll be critical of living at the moment,” he said. Majority of his work is created to get people more interested in life underwater.

His sculptures, clean and smooth on the surface when first installed, act as a base for growing magnificent coral reefs. According to Taylor, reefs will develop quickly in tropical cities with warm water. “You can see some juvenile corals after six months,” he said. As time passes, Taylor's pieces develop biological growth, redefining the underwater landscape. 

Taylor uses pH neutral high density cement when creating his sculptures. This material lasts hundreds of years, according to Taylor, and is designed to sustain a reef. After installations, he also makes sure to return to his projects, to keep an eye on how well the sculptures are developing into reefs.

So far, the artist has created over 900 sculptures, each one telling a different story and highlighting different issues. Whether it is a colony of people standing still, or a man sitting on a couch eating a hamburger while watching television, Taylor has integrated characteristics of our current society underwater—including actual people. “Real people come to the studio and we take a mold to them,” Taylor said.

He hopes to use “art as a tool to engage people from everyday walks of life.”

Taylor is currently working on a massive project: Museo Atlántico or Atlantic Museum. It will be the first underwater aquatic museum in the Atlantic Ocean and located in Lanzarote, Spain. 


For a look at more of Taylor's work, visit his website or Facebook


See more photos on Jason's website:

tscout's picture

that looks like fun,,They have been rebuilding reefs off of the florida coast for a long time with all kinds of junk,,,and it 's working,,,but these look like much more fun for divers. I like that first photo with the barracuda in the background, and they love the reef fish!! I had one about that size go after my belt buckle while diving on a small reef in florida once! yikes!!! A brass buckle,,,,tarnished black,,,,but under water it shined like new! I had to quickly cover it with my hands,or I might of lost some parts that I would miss dearly! hehe

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