A group of artists, environmentalists, entrepreneurs, and locals gathered in mid-April along the Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands to witness an exciting moment: The sinking of the Kodiak Queen, 1 of 5 boats that survived Pearl Harbor. But this wasn’t for entertainment purposes. The ship had been transformed by the group months before into both a tourist attraction, and a way of drawing attention and conservation efforts to the region’s dying coral reef populations. [1]

Source: Inhabitat

The volunteers gave the boat a thorough cleaning and transformed its chambers into a sort-of interactive art piece, including a hollow rebar and mesh kraken with 80-foot tentacles that extend along the length of the deck. Once the Kodiak Queen reached the ocean floor, it would become the Project YOKO BVI Art Reef, an interactive dive site.

The project is now the world’s largest underwater art installation.

There was a tense moment on the shore, when the audience thought the boat might tip over, compromising much of the artists’ work. Fortunately, the Kodiak Queen remained upright for her journey, drawing cheers from the crowd.

Aydika James, the art director at Secret Samurai Productions, a collective of artists working toward solving real-world problems through art, said:

“Watching this ship, which has so much history and so many hours put into it, go down was a joyful thing. It felt like a beginning.”

James is also a member of Maverick1000, a group of entrepreneurs who meet annually on Sir Richard Branson’s private Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands.

Read: Great Barrier Reef in Bad Shape, but not Dead yet

In addition to being a symbol of artistic expression and entertainment for divers, Project YOKO also serves as a new artificial reef that provides a foundation for corals and sponges to grow upon, that will also house fish, such as the threatened Goliath groupers. [2]

A Goliath grouper swims with other fish

BVI Art Reef’s goal is to “mobilize a network of researchers, philanthropists, and artists to solve marine health problems through the Power of Play.”

The downed ship is furbished with “an emerging technology called environmental DNA, or eDNA, to collect data on the entire marine ecosystem around the vessel.”

Now that the Kodiak Queen rests at the bottom of the ocean, the project’s organizers have started working with local BVI dive operators to ensure divers submit a $10 donation that will go to marine health research and children’s swim education.

Sources:

[1] Fast Company

[2] Collective Evolution

Images Source:

Inhabitat


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Post written byJulie Fidler:
Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.