World's First Underwater Museum: MUSA Near Cancun, Mexico Is Full of Coral Reefs and Impressive Sculptures [PICS]
Off the coast of Isla de Mujeres, the world's first underwater museum lies 28 feet beneath the surface of the blue ocean near the Mexican city of Cancun.
Arranged by English sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor, the Cancun Underwater Museum features more than 460 statues and pieces of art, each made from PH-neutral concrete specifically designed to encourage marine life to grow -- cultivating more marine plants and attracting fish to the region.
The MUSA exhibitions were also created to draw tourists away from local coral reefs. According to the tourist board, approximately 300,000 people visit the area each year, and snorkeling divers have been causing damage by kicking them as they swim by.
"If they swim near the corals, the divers with little experience might kick them with a fin or hit them with the oxygen tank," said Jaime Gonzalez, director of the West Coast National Park. "Before it was declared a park, the tourists even climbed up the corals and walked on top of them, breaking and shattering them."
"Something had to be done about the damage to the local reef areas," DeCaires Taylor added. "Hurricanes, tropical storms and mankind were taking their toll on these natural gardens."
Teaming up with Gonzalez and Roberto Diaz, the President of the Nautical Association for Cancun and Isla Mujeres, DeCaire Taylor then came up with a solution by sculpting contemporary submerging statues that would create area growing artificial coral reef, which will ultimately protect marine life and allow fish to live and breed.
The designers collected damaged fragments of the reef corals washed up after tropical storms and planted them on the initial sculptures, which naturally become covered with coral over time. In the entire display called "Silent Evolution," the majority of statues are in the shape of an eye, in order to control and spread currents in the area, reducing the risk of tropical storms.
In addition, the sculptures were made to resemble members from the local community in Isla Mujeres, including "The Banker," the suited man with his head buried in the sand. It was created to "depict the recent denial and lack of transparency defined by the current economical crisis," while "supporting an internal living space for crustaceans and juvenile fish to breed."
Another noticeable piece is of a Volkswagen, which its rounded shape can "sustain strong currents or tropical storms," while allowing fish and marine life swim through and live in the crevices of the vehicle and its tires.
The admission to the underwater museum costs between $69 and $71, depending on the diver's experience and equipment.