The Art of Cleaning

Newspaper: OceanRealm Word press
Title: The Art of Cleaning
Author/Reporter: Putting Art in an Artificial Reef
Date: 04/02/2007

Liquid Lounge is an environmentally-oriented segment heard every Saturday at 4:30 PM during Caribbean Riddims with Eddy Edwards on WTPS 1080AM in Miami.

Over the years, the program has been an advocate of near-shore, shallow-water artificial reef construction.

An artificial reef is manmade. It can be a pile of concrete, including culvert pipe and old bridge sections, or an obsolete ship, an army tank or pieces of a radio antennae.
Whatever it is, when placed on barren ocean bottom it provides shelter for homeless fish.

If built with a little imagination, although that is seldom the case, an artificial reef will attract more than fish.

In May 2000, during an event called Sinko De Mayo Splash!, the world’s only underwater margarita bar was placed in 20 feet of water, about 200 yards east of Nikki Beach in the South Beach Artificial Reef Area of Miami Beach. Diageo, the world’s largest liquor distributor, wanted a promotional event for the Jose Cuervo tequila brand. The built, and deployed, a 22-ton concrete bar with six bar stools and a dive flag roof.

In case you didn’t notice, the first ‘word’ in artificial is ‘art.’

If the material has a shape or form, like the Christ of the deep statue near Key Largo, Florida, or Simon Morris’ Sunset House mermaid in Grand Cayman, the reef attracts recreational scuba divers, effectively creating an eco-tourism attraction. Simon has a grand vision to place a Guardian of the Reef in several locations around the world.

There are those who argue that an artificial reef is a ‘FAD’ – fish attracting devise. No one knows for sure. So, the best thing to do with an artificial reef that has an artistic flair is to make the area a ‘no-take’ zone. But that’s a lot easier said, than done.

An innovative artificial reef is under construction in the Key Biscayne Special Management Zone, roughly 5 miles southeast of Miami Beach. The Atlantis Memorial Reef is an underwater themepark designed by the noted sculptor Kim Brandell. Sections of the circular site – 900 feet in diameter – will contain statues, domes, columns and arches that have cremated remains mixed with the concrete.
More than 650 tons of material has been transported from the MiamiRiver to the reef site since the beginning of 2007.

The first ‘Lunch at the Lounge‘ is scheduled for May 4th at NikkiBeach. The program will be recorded and made available as a podcast.  My guest will be Luiz Rodrigues, executive director of ECOMB, the Environmental Coalition of MiamiBeach. Others will be added.