VR & Underwater Sculpture for Ocean Protection

by Shu-Yu Liu

The ocean is a vital resource, yet ocean pollution has intensified, due to greenhouse effect and rapid ongoing coastal development. The question is, how do we protect and conserve the marine ecology?

Underwater sculpture for ocean conservation

The Great Barrier Reef in Australia has been severely damaged in recent years. Therefore, The Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA) has worked together with British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor to create two art pieces- Coral Greenhouse and Ocean Siren, in the hope of calling for the world to protect the ocean.

Coral Greenhouse is a huge triangular structure stands on the bottom of the sea at the center of Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. It is made of concrete and stainless steel, weighing about 165 tons. Taylor uses materials with neutral pH value, and there are bars and gaps that allow fish and octopuses to search for food and avoid natural enemies. The design also encourages the growth of the coral within and all over its structure, as the structure can become part of the surrounding environment over time.

Ocean Siren features a female figure holding a shell and stands above the sea surface. The sculpture houses LED lights that change color according to water temperature data relayed from the weather station. There are dark blue, light blue, yellow, orange, and dark red, which indicates the corals reefs under great threat, as in the severity of coral bleaching resulted from warm water temperatures.

Ocean brought to you through VR

Erika Woolsey, an U.S. marine biologist visits diving sites around the world because of her work, and she is shocked by the mass coral bleaching events she has seen. Because of this, Woolsey started planning to present to the general public the ocean conditions at risk that are seen often by divers only. Then, she thought of using virtual reality (VR) that provides highly immersive experiences, and started Hydrous, a non-profit organization, to produce IMMERSE, a VR film featuring the beauty of the ocean and the conservation of coral reefs. Users can have a 360-degree immersion view of the ocean bottom through a VR helmet.

Discarded fishing nets turned into fashionable clothing

To reduce the harm to the environment brought by discarded fishing nets, fishermen in Kinmen, Taiwan, formed an environmental protection fleet to salvage discarded fishing nets in the ocean and unauthorized fish traps that are to be detained by coast guards. Since 2016, they have collected over 70 tons of nets, which are later sent to the main island of Taiwan to be restored into nylon chips, before they are turned into environmentally friendly textile. Clothing made with such a material is not only fashionable but also friendly to the ocean ecology, which meets the goal for environmental sustainability.

Conclusion

The rapid global economic development also comes with damages to coastal wetlands and coral reefs, leaving marine ecology in a worse condition. Artists and scientists having been looking into different ways to call for people’s participation in ocean preservation, so that more people can better understand how vulnerable our ocean is today.

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