Miami Beach: "ReefLine", underwater park to combat coral mortality

28.11.2022 10:11
Kategorie: News

An 11-kilometre-long underwater park is being built in the south of Florida.

On the coast of Miami, more precisely in Miami Beach, a sculpture and underwater park is being built. The public artwork is not only meant to be a tourist attraction, but also to serve as a measure against coral dieback. Recently, the city of Miami approved the funding, and construction is scheduled to begin in early 2023. Tourists should be able to dive to the first section of the eleven-kilometre-long installation as early as 2021.

Gallery 1 here

The sculpture park and snorkelling path "ReefLine" is to extend over a total of eleven kilometres off the coast of Miami Beach. The initiators want to offer corals and other marine life a new habitat, but also raise visitors' awareness of climate change, which is causing rising sea levels and coral reef damage, especially in this part of Florida.

Art curator and project designer Ximena Caminos wants to use the project to draw attention to the challenges facing marine life. Together with the art studio Coral Morphologic, the city of Miami Beach and the architecture firm Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), Caminos developed the project plan. The idea grew out of a conversation with a marine biologist about artificial reefs to restore and protect the marine ecosystem, Caminos said in an interview with the "NYT" (New York Times).

Coral meets art

Artificial reefs can indeed provide new habitats for certain animal and plant species in the sea, the German marine conservation initiative Deepwave also knows. However, these species are not always desired, as they could drive out naturally occurring species. Moreover, such man-made reefs should not be misused as landfills.

Caminos speaks of her project as a 'tool for change'. "I thought: What if we created an artist-designed reef?", Caminos told "CNN". "I've always been interested in how we can combine art and science to address issues of sustainability."

The project designer also aims to combine art and science with "ReefLine" to bring about "sustainable change". She says it is also important for the project to be participatory, free and open to the public. The underwater park is also intended to attract snorkelling and diving enthusiasts in particular as a tourist attraction. Recently, the city of Miami Beach approved a five million dollar bond to finance the "ReefLine".

Cement-free concrete and tree nursery

Cement production, the basic material for concrete, produces about four times as many CO2 emissions annually as global air travel. The sculptures of the "ReefLine" are therefore to be built from a cement-free geopolymer concrete. This concrete is even supposed to capture and store carbon.

For example, when the concrete sculptures are planted with corals, there are to be community projects in which people can actively participate. The corals will first be grown in coral nurseries and then planted out on certain sections of the underwater park.

Coral cars as a memorial

"The artwork serves as a cautionary tale of what will happen to our coastal cities if we don't do something about global warming," Caminos told the NYT. Argentine artist Leandro Erlich, for example, is to design and build 22 life-size car sculptures for the project.

However, unlike "real" cars, the concrete cars are supposed to absorb carbon emissions instead of emitting them. The "modern symbol of carbon emissions" will thus be transformed into a carbon sink populated by marine life, says Caminos.

Another sculpture will depict a blue whale heart measuring almost one and a half metres. The artwork is to be presented during an art week in December before it is installed under water.

Dramatic consequences of the climate crisis

In a few decades, Florida's most famous city will probably be under water due to rising sea levels. Nevertheless, the building boom continues, especially near the shore. There is a post-flood mentality. Experts have long warned of the dramatic consequences that man-made climate change will have, especially for coastal cities like Miami. Rising temperatures are causing the oceans to expand and sea levels to rise - even now. But extreme weather such as floods and hurricanes will also become more frequent and more severe in connection with the climate crisis.

Rising temperatures and also rising sea levels are leading to changes in ecosystems - first and foremost the oceans, because they absorb around a third of the additional carbon dioxide. Only a few corals survive such an increased concentration of CO2; already in 2035, half of all coral reefs could have disappeared. Although corals can recover, this recovery is not always sustainable.

Southeast Florida particularly affected

According to a 2020 report by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), coral reefs in Florida have an asset value of 8.5 billion US dollars - for example, because they serve as a habitat for fish and thus support fisheries or play an important role in tourism. But the reefs are not only threatened by the climate crisis, but also by overfishing and diseases, the report says. Especially in southeast Florida, the corals are negatively affected by human activities. The restoration of these reefs is therefore necessary to improve the general conditions.

More Informationen:
The ReefLine
Article New York Times
NOAA Report