On the sandy bottom of the sea floor in Molinere Bay lies a mystery. During our Grenada scuba diving adventure, we headed out to see what lurks beneath the surface. To our delight, we discovered the playful and whimsical Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park.
Water activities such as scuba diving and snorkeling can sometimes be hard on oceanic reefs. Careless snorkelers can crash into coral reefs, permanently damaging them. A scuba diver can drag their back-up oxygen source (called an octopus) or air gauge, which can hurt sea life or permanently damage delicate reefs. The kick of fins from either divers or snorkelers can smash fragile coral.
Beyond man-made actions, reefs can also be irreparably damaged by hurricanes, such as what happened in Grenada in both 2004 and again in 2005. Chemicals can leak into the ocean which can bleach reefs. And climate change can increase ocean temperatures which can damage reefs or change aquatic populations.
In 2006, British artist Jason deCaires Taylor started building these underwater statues on the ocean floor. Overseen by the non-profit, volunteer-based organization, The Grenada Underwater Sculpture Management Inc., this group acts in concert with the local government to develop and maintain the world’s first underwater sculpture gallery. It’s a brilliant idea!
By providing something cool to look at, the sculpture park shifts the focus from fragile reefs, to less sensitive concrete and steel structures. Most dive operators couple the Grenada underwater sculptures with either a reef or wreck dive. This gives divers two different (and unique!) experiences to enjoy.
We really didn’t know what to expect of the Jason deCaires Taylor’s underwater sculptures in Molinere Bay, but we were pleasantly surprised. The sculptures really are amazing to look at.
For us, there were two highlights of the underwater sculptures. The first was an underwater adaptation of Rio’s Christ the Redeemer statue, called Christ of the Deep. Instead of Christ looking down on the city of Rio, the arms of this underwater Jesus statue has his arms stretched upwards and his gaze looks to the surface.
Christ of the Deep was actually created by Troy Lewis (not Taylor) and installed with funding from the local tourism authority. It commemorated the 50th anniversary of the sinking of the Bianca C. The wreck of the Bianca C is also a popular scuba dive site in Grenada.
The second and most iconic sculpture is The Vicissitudes – a group of 26 children (modeled after local citizens on the island) holding hands in a circle. There have been many interpretations of the work – from the circle of life to representations of slaves who were thrown off ships hundreds of years ago. Jason deCaires Taylor’s true intent is the great mystery of the deep in Grenada.
However, regardless of how you interpret the work, the 15 tons of concrete is spectacular! The aquatic life seems equally at home among the sculptures as they are on the reefs.
Before visiting Grenada, we’d discussed what it would be like to dive on an artificial structure (like the sculptures) instead of a reef or a wreck. We were pleasantly surprised!
As underwater photographers, we found the statues provide a different perspective and something unique to photograph. These underwater photos are some of our most popular. Scuba diving at the Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park was a lot of fun.
Lance Longwell is a travel writer and photographer who has published Travel Addicts since 2008, making it one of the oldest travel blogs. He is a life-long traveler, having visited all 50 of the United States by the time he graduated high school. Lance has continued his adventures by visiting 70 countries on 5 continents – all in search of the world’s perfect sausage. He’s a passionate foodie and enjoys hot springs and cultural oddities. When he’s not traveling (or writing about travel), you’ll find him photographing his hometown of Philadelphia.