On a rainy day in mid-April, a group of artists, entrepreneurs, environmentalists, and locals gathered on the shore of Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands to watch the Kodiak Queen, one of five boats that survived the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, sink to the bottom of the ocean.
For months before, a team of artists had devoted themselves to cleaning the boat and transforming its many chambers into an interactive art experience, adorned with a hollow rebar and mesh kraken whose 80-foot tentacles extend along the length of the deck. At the bottom of the ocean, the Kodiak Queen would become the Project YOKO BVI Art Reef, a unique new dive site in the BVI that would act as both a tourist site and a way to draw attention and conservation efforts to the region’s plummeting coral reef populations.
And in the process, the network of partners backing the Project YOKO art reef brought in the environmental research nonprofit Beneath the Waves, which will use an emerging technology called environmental DNA, or eDNA, to collect data on the entire marine ecosystem around the vessel. That hollow kraken actually plays a role here: the body and tentacles will act as a protected environment in which scientists will foster the repopulation of the dwindling goliath grouper, whose presence in the waters helps form the ecosystem that is essential to the health of the coral reefs.
“The whole purpose is that eventually all the people who put this together will be forgotten, and the new life and economy the reef will create will remain.” James says.
Source: Fast Company