SmithsonianMag profiled the work of artist Jason deCaires Taylor, whose underwater sculptures help encourage the growth of coral reefs.
“The intersection of art and the ocean struck me as being excitingly unexplored terrain,” deCaires Taylor wrote in the foreword to a new book of his work, Underwater Museum. “I quickly realized that my passion was not for teaching scuba diving but for creating art that would facilitate marine life.”
Though shallow seas constitute only eight percent of the world’s oceans, they’re thought to contain the majority of marine life—life that is under constant threat from the disappearance of coral reefs, thriving ecosystems that house thousands of marine species (25 percent of all marine life, by some estimates). The decay of coral reef environments is caused in part by ocean acidification, which has increased 30 percent since the start of the Industrial Revolution. As the ocean absorbs the skyrocketing levels of human-made carbon emissions, almost 40 percent of coral reefs have disappeared within the past few decades—and scientists warn that nearly 80 percent could be gone by 2050.