The Art As Reef Project, headed up by marine biologist, SCUBA instructor, and artist Christopher Wojcik is working to fabricate the second in a series of sculptural pieces to be deployed onto the ocean floor. The sculpture is a fifty-foot long re articulated finback whale skeleton. This sculpture will literally “live” on the bottom of the sea for hundreds or even thousands of years and act as an artificial reef. It will attract fish, crustaceans, encrusting organisms of all sorts in addition to divers and snorkelers from around the world. The merits of artificial reefs have long been recognized. They provide vertical structure in areas that are generally bare, which reduces the fishing pressure in popular areas and offer refuge for juvenile fishes and invertebrates. The surfaces of the sculpture also provides an attachment sites for marine invertebrates, overhead structure which provides refuge for juvenile fishes, prime feeding beds for grazers, and hunting grounds for predators.
As an art project, the Whale Fall sculpture will help to shine a light on some critical ocean issues and serve as an educational vehicle used to promote the stewardship of our near-shore environment. A public education campaign comprised of press releases, speaking engagements, and public appearances will be occurring during construction, prior to the sinking, and hopefully for years to come. A digital media presentation will be created featuring every aspect of the project so that the messages conveyed continue to resonate long after the sculpture begins its life on the seafloor. It is the creator’s intent that the uniqueness of the project will attract world-wide attention, and will allow great numbers of people to appreciate the aesthetics of the sculptures form and to hear the message.
The Whale skeleton was chosen because a dead whale carcass, and the resulting skeletal remains, occupy a unique place in the ecology of our oceans. The large biomass that a living whale is able to accumulate throughout its life is unprecedented in the history of Planet Earth. The great whales are the largest animals that have ever lived in the ocean or on land. When one of these animals die, the recycling of that huge body continues to be a benefit for the living creatures of the ocean for many years following death.