Underwater art with an environmental purpose is now available for divers to peruse at the US’s first ever Underwater Museum of Art.
The museum, which is in the Gulf of Mexico, lies at a depth of approximately 60feet and at a distance of 0.7-miles from the shore of Grayton Beach State Park located in South Walton, Florida.
Each year, a juried selection of sculptural works, drawn from artists throughout the world, will be installed in the underwater garden, which opened in June.
UMA’s purpose is to make art that turns into marine habitat by expanding fish populations. The South Walton Artificial Reef Association advised the UMA on how to ensure the sculptures complement, not damage, the seascape.
The sculptures, made using materials that are safe for sea life, quickly attract a wide variety of marine life and, over time, metamorphise into a living reef.
The museum displays seven prominent sculptures – including a giant skull by artist Vince Tatum and an octopus by Allison Wickey, the mastermind behind the museum.
This eco-tourism attraction provides a much-needed habitat for local marine life and fisheries as well as providing marine scientists, wildlife management professionals, ecologists, and students, with an opportunity to study marine life and measure the impact of artificial reef systems on the Gulf ecosystem.
South Walton Artificial Reef Association Board President Andy McAlexander said: “The intent of the project was proven within an hour of deployment when we could see schools of bait fish swarming the structures, completely validating the entire effort. I have never been prouder to have had the privilege to work with such talented and visionary people in my life. This project has changed my perspective towards art.”
The public can experience the environmentally friendly artwork for free. Guests can dive and go snorkelling through a variety of submerged sculptures.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea