East Bali's reefs welcome new underwater art

The sculpture, a mermaid, was installed in the sea — at a depth of 10 meters — at the Jemeluk diving and snorkeling site near Amed fishing village, Bali, on May 28. 

Aside from being a tourist attraction, the sculpture made from pH neutral cement, also serves as a breeding ground for coral and fish. The mermaid sculpture was created by a Balinese artist named Wayan Winten.

The event was part of a campaign entitled Art for Oceans Indonesia which was realized through a collaboration of the Marine Foundation (TMF), the Body Shop Indonesia and Reef Check Indonesia.

Future plans include a coral garden in Amed to prevent further destructive activities and to facilitate the regeneration of its marine Eco-systems health.

Amed once boasted beautiful coral reefs in the 1980s. However, intense use of fishing nets —resulting in extensive coral damage — and active dismantling of the corals for use as building materials has led to an alarming rate of degradation.

"We are very excited about this mermaid sculpture and hope the project will be as successful as the beautiful statue in Pemuteran, Bali," TMF founder Celia Gregory told a press conference in Amed on May 28.

Over the past five years, the TMF has created and installed four underwater sculptures in Indonesia in areas where coral reefs were badly damaged. 

The most famous of the sculptures is The Coral Goddess within the Karang Lestari Bio-rock reef regeneration project in Pemuteran, Bali, which won a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) award for marine conservation.

The TMF, the Body Shop Indonesia and the Reef Check Indonesia’s will also hold a series of public events to promote their campaign.These include a gathering of marine experts in Bali to celebrate World Ocean Day on June 8 and an exhibition of underwater photography in Beachwalk Mall in Kuta.

Coral reefs are the rain forests of the oceans,  they are fish nurseries and provide natural protection for beaches against erosion. 

According to Reefs at Risk 2012, a report by the World Resources Institute, Indonesia is listed among the nine countries in the world most vulnerable to coral reef degradation.

 

How to get there

Amed is situated in Karangasem regency, east Bali, a two to three hour drive from Denpasar. Up to 20 dive operators and more than 50 lodgings are available in the area.

 

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