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In April 2017, the fabled kraken, a legendary giant sea monster you may remember from the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise, became a real thing. And not only that, its purpose is actually to save the sea! Okay, so this kraken is not a living, breathing giant-tentacled ship-eater; it’s a sculpture attached to a ship, and it’s hopefully going to help regrow the coral off the coast of the British Virgin Islands.
This inspiring story of art meets environmentalism started in 2015, when photographer Owen Buggy discovered an old WWII ship formerly known as YO-44 on the island of Tortola. Normally, vessels like this would be broken down and used for scrap metal, but Buggy had a bigger and better idea.
He approached his former boss, Richard Branson, who then teamed up with Lauren Keil from Unite BVI and organisations Secret Samurai Productions, Maverick1000 and Beneath the Waves to create what is now known as the BVI Art Reef.
Working with Buggy, artist Drew Shook and his hardy art team designed and built an 80-foot steel kraken, which was then attached to the marine war vessel, now renamed The Kodiak Queen, and sunk off the coast of Virgin Gorda thanks to the experts at Commercial Dive Services.
The goal of the faked shipwreck is for the eco art installation to attract and regenerate marine life, and environmental consultant for the project, Clive Petrovic, is confident this will happen. He explains, ‘Everything from corals to sea sponges, sharks and turtles will live on, in, and around the wreck. The ship will become valuable for future research by scientists and local students alike.’
A film by Rob Sorrenti about this amazing experiment will be out sometime in 2018, but in the meantime, Buggy’s photos are an incredible and beautiful reminder of what happens when art and science come together for the good of our world.