Sculpture park opens beneath mega-jetty

The Mermaid's Muse by Daniel Fisher with Seahorse
The Mermaid's Muse by Daniel Fisher, with other sculptures in the background

Australia has gained another underwater sculpture park for the benefit of scuba divers and snorkellers, as an installation at the end of Busselton Jetty was officially opened in late January. 

For once the work isn’t by ubiquitous British underwater artist Jason deCaires Taylor but by a collective of 12 Western Australian sculptors. Their 13 works, ranging in scale from 2 x 2m to 10 x 6m, make up the state's first such artificial diver attraction, at what is described as its premier eco-tourism destination, which draws more than 700,000 visitors a year.

The Mermaid's Muse, a sculpture
 by Daniel Fisher
The base of Seahorse by Jake Coghlan, with The Mermaid's Muse by Daniel Fisher in the background
The Lighthouse by David Barbour
The Lighthouse by David Barbour
Tail of Southern Right Whale by Alan Meyburgh
Tail of Southern Right Whale by Alan Meyburgh

The sculptures were installed during the Australian winter months of June and July last year while the Leeuwin current was flowing south from Exmouth / Coral Bay to Busselton / Geographe Bay, helping to kick-start the marine-life colonisation process. 

This also meant that the many guests who went snorkelling to view the exhibits at the official opening were able to appreciate how rapidly that colonisation was occurring.

Base of The Postmaster by Georgia Zoric
Base of The Postmaster by Georgia Zoric
The Diver's Helmet by Gavin Cochrane
The Diver's Helmet by Gavin Cochrane
Queen Of The Bay by Scott Michell
Queen Of The Bay by Scott Michell

The sculptures are made from a range of materials including mild steel, ceramics, bronze and marine-grade concrete, and the rate of marine-life growth varies depending on the material used. The mild-steel sculptures have zinc anodes attached to reduce corrosion.

The town of Busselton lies south of Bunbury and Perth and its heritage-listed, timber-piled jetty stretches 1.84km out to sea, making it the longest pier in the southern hemisphere and second-longest in the world. The Underwater Sculpture Park is spread out among the pylons around the end of the jetty.

Shark, from Crab And The Shark by ShoreGaze
Shark, from Crab And The Shark by ShoreGaze
ss Pericles replica by Shorewater Marine
ss Pericles replica by Shorewater Marine
Fish on the Pericles
Fish on the Pericles

Built in 1865, the structure is run by the non-profit community organisation Busselton Jetty Inc, which says it pays for maintenance and repairs by contributing 25% of its revenue, including that now derived from selling Aus $4 dive/snorkel passes for those wanting to take a close look at the sculptures.

Another arm of the organisation, the Busselton Jetty Environment Foundation, is concerned with marine conservation and will monitor colonisation in the Underwater Sculpture Park, which was created under the supervision of jetty environment manager Sophie Teede.

Growth on a pier leg
Colourful growth on a jetty leg indicates how the sculptures will appear in future

“The Underwater Sculpture Park stands as a testament to the community’s dedication to the preservation of our natural treasures,” said Busselton Jetty CEO Lisa Shreeve at the opening ceremony. “This new addition to the jetty is a remarkable fusion of art, tourism and marine conservation.”

Also on Divernet: Pier review, Ocean Sentinels form new GBR dive trail, Coral Carnival spices up Grenada’s underwater park, Blue Exile: Art of the strange under water

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