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BVI Art Reef Is Newest Artificial Reef Open to Divers

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BVI Art Reef Is Newest Artificial Reef Open to Divers

The Kodiak Queen, a former WWII warship was intentionally sunk on April 11, 2017 to create the BVIs newest artificial reef— BVI Art Reef. This was an extensive project that included the assistance and brain power from many leading entrepreneurs, engineers, artists, scientists, philanthropists and adventurers including Sir Richard Branson. Check out the video below for a detailed look at the building and sinking process of the BVIs newest artificial reef.

The site is now open to divers but in a Facebook post by the official BVI Art Reef Facebook page, it is recommended to only dive with operators that helped with the sinking process until they have finished establishing all moorings on the site.

Press release issued on April 14, 2017:

• Ship earmarked for the scarp heap ‘The Kodiak Queen’ has been saved, cleaned and sunk to create an artificial reef which will benefit the region for decades to come.

• Phase two of the project will involve: coral restoration, species monitoring and ocean conservation education which will have short and long term positive impacts on the BVI ocean eco-system.

• Leading entrepreneurs, engineers, artists, scientists, philanthropists and adventurers including Sir Richard Branson, the Unite BVI Foundation, Maverick1000 and Secret Samurai Productions with Owen Buggy, Commercial Dive Services, Beneath the Waves and the Association of Reef Keepers have come together to create the ‘BVI Art Reef’ which is aimed at raising awareness of ocean conservation across the region.

• The Kodiak Queen was one of the few ships to survive the attack on Pearl Harbour. The sinking of the ship will create an artificial reef, marine habitat and world-class dive site complete with a large-scale underwater art installation that doubles in function both as a coral nursery out-planting canvas as well as a human interest feature that will boost dive tourism in the BVI.

Sir Richard Branson, the Maverick1000 group of entrepreneurs and Unite BVI, together with Secret Samurai Productions, Commercial Dive Services, Beneath the Waves, the Association of Reef Keepers and Owen Buggy, have joined forces to create a unique dive site in the British Virgin lslands, called the Maverick BVI Art Reef.

BVI artificial reef

The dive site features a permanent eco-friendly underwater art installation that doubles in function - both as a coral nursery out-planting canvas as well as a “fantasy dive experience”.

Owen Buggy Photography/BVI ART Reef Project

The site will create an invaluable marine habitat, as well as a dive site with a permanent eco-friendly underwater art installation that doubles in function - both as a coral nursery out-planting canvas as well as a “fantasy dive experience” - boosting dive tourism in the BVI. The project aims to raise awareness of the important environmental issues facing our oceans and inspire conservationist efforts to find sustainable solutions to these challenges.

The idea started when photographer Owen Buggy, who was working on Necker Island at the time discovered that the Kodiak Queen had historical significance. The ship had been earmarked to be scrapped by the Government of the BVI when Owen presented the idea to Sir Richard Branson, who lives in the BVI.

The remaining question was how to raise the funds to purchase, clean and sink the ship, and importantly: how to make it meaningful and with long-term impact.

Sir Richard Branson’s non-profit organisation, Unite BVI, presented the challenge to a group of innovative entrepreneurs staying on Necker Island called Maverick1000. The challenge was presented to come up with a solution to the problems facing the Kodiak Queen.

Members of the Maverick group, which included Secret Samurai Production partners, came up with the solution spot on and enthusiastically committed to partner with Sir Richard Branson and Unite BVI to appeal to the BVI Government for permission to give the ship an honourable and rejuvenating next chapter to her long career at sea.

The project will have short and long term positive impact on the area. Phase two of the project will involve coral restoration efforts, species monitoring, swim programs for members of the local community, cutting edge e-DNA research and ocean conservation education. It will also act as an awareness programmes to protect vulnerable species and address other challenges threatening the health of the oceans.

The project is a carefully designed sustainable model. Local dive operators have committed to encourage guests to make a ‘built-in’ donation in addition to the usual rate charged.

BVI artificial reef

Diver on the newly created BVI Art Reef.

BVI Art Reef Project

The Art Reef is an example of what is possible when a group of like-minded entrepreneurs, artists, engineers, conservation philanthropists, scientists and adventurers come together from across the globe. The group has created and implemented an innovative approach to solving local challenges with large- scale impact by creating an opportunity to amplify messages about the challenges that face our oceans.

Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group Founder, said:

“The BVI Art Reef gives us a unique platform to capture people’s attention on the importance of addressing ocean conservation and in particular, combat climate change, protect our coral reefs and rehabilitate vulnerable marine species. This is an incredible opportunity to create one of the most meaningful dive sites in the world.”

The Kodiak Queen has served for many years in locations and on oceans across the globe, beginning life as a fuelling vessel in World War 2. The ship earned a battle star for her services in the Pacific through the rest of WW2, before being retired to take on a new role as fishing vessel.

Thanks to the engineering and technical expertise and hard work of Lead Consultant, Chris Juredin and his hard-working team at the Commercial Dive Services, the ship has embarked on a new adventure as it evolves from an artificial reef to a natural one at its final resting place on the bottom of the ocean. The site also features an 80 foot long Giant Kraken, designed and built by Secret Samurai Productions, a talented team of artists lead by Producers Aydika James and Mike Cline, and Sculpt Team Lead Drew Shook.

Lauren Keil, Unite BVI Foundation Manager, said:

“What excites me most about this project is its ability to amplify messages around ocean conservation. We hope that the site will attract new divers who will fall in love with the underwater world and in turn become advocates for its protection”

Clive Petrovic, who leads on the environmental impact assessment of the project, said:

“It’s envisioned that within just a short space of time the ship and artwork will attract a myriad of sea creatures. 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.”

Adding “This is the first time in the BVI that a vessel destined to become an artificial reef has undergone such detailed cleaning and modification for safety. Future safety of divers visiting the site has been the top priority for both the ship preparation and the construction of the artwork. The standards used to clean and modify the ship for safety will become a model for similar projects in the future, not just in the BVI, but in the region.“

For more information or to make a donation please visit www.divethebviartreef.com.

Read Sir Richard Branson's blog about the sinking here.

Follow the BVI Art Reef on Facebook to stay up to date.