The Underwater Dodo Project: Creating Underwater Coral Sculpture Gardens in Mauritius and Bringing the Dodo Back to Life

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1 The Underwater Dodo Project: Creating Underwater Coral Sculpture Gardens in Mauritius and Bringing the Dodo Back to Life

2 Bringing dodos back to life: a creative conservation project combining art, science, history and livelihoods. Background Mauritius owes its existence, and identity as Paradise Island to the coral reefs which surround most of the island. Composed of about 24,500 hectares (245 km 2 ) and over 160 species of corals, Mauritius s coral reefs are central to Mauritius s survival and economic growth. Our reefs fulfil multiple functions: Contents of Brochure Overview of Project Background on coral reefs Benefits of the project Portrait of the Artist, about the Shapers Annexes o Budget and funding Protection of Mauritius s shorelines from waves and coastal erosion Aesthetic and leisure functions by providing beautiful beaches as well as marine environments where activities like snorkelling/ scuba-diving can be carried out Generating revenue from tourism and food through fisheries Ecosystem functions as habitat and feeding grounds for marine species Mauritius has been taking several steps to protect its coral reef environment in the Indian Ocean. However, we recognise that more can be done, particularly in partnership with the Tourism sector. What the project is about The vision of this project is to rejuvenate corals in Mauritius, generate funding for more coral replenishment, advance science and at the same time inspire our local population and tourists to respect our coral environment. The project entails the creation of Underwater Coral Sculpture Gardens in selected sites around Mauritius. This will be combined with a holistic approach to re-growing coral from offshoots of Mauritian coral as well as an awareness programme to inspire a new generation to take interest in preserving Mauritius delicate coral reef environment. The underwater coral sculpture garden will be spearheaded with a signature piece of an Underwater Dodo or Dodo de la Mer. The Dodo has long symbolised the impact humans have had on nature, with the extinction of the Dodo in Mauritius in the 17 th century. This time, it is hoped that we can bring the Dodo back to life by encouraging coral to grow on the sculpture.

3 Why is it so important to take care of coral reefs? Coral reefs are critical in the world. 850 million people live within 100 km of a reef and 94 countries or territories benefit from reef tourism. In addition coral reefs are a hotbed of life: accounting for 25% of all marine life. It is feared that coral reefs are under severe threat of collapse. However, we are only just discovering how precarious a condition reefs are in. The decline in the Caribbean has been particularly rapid. In the 1970s, more than 70% of reefs showed coral cover. However, only 8% showed live coral cover in a new survey conducted in 2012, with 75% of this coral in the Caribbean likely to be under threat by 2050, and 95% of coral reefs likely to be under threat in South East Asia within the next 40 years. If this occurs, it would become one of the first ecosystems to undergo a complete collapse as a result of man. Why the dodo? As well as its beautiful beaches, spectacular landscape and multicultural population, Mauritius is also known for man s impact on nature. The Dutch who ruled the island at the time found the Dodo an easy prey for food. By 1662, the Dodo had become extinct. Hence the Dodo is an important reminder of man s impact. The more we care, the more chance coral will grow and the greater the chance that we can bring the Dodo back to life. If we don t, it will speak volumes about what mankind has learnt 350 years after the last sighting of the Dodo. The causes for the decline of reefs are complex and overlapping. These include, damaging fishing techniques (such as dynamite fishing), growing acidification of the ocean, climate change, use of damaging agricultural practices, water pollution. In addition, there have been several episodes of major bleaching which has killed much of the live coral. Efforts by Mauritius to restore corals Mauritius has been taking attempts to protect and restore the coral reefs. Efforts include developing a protected marine area in Blue Bay Marine Park; making the extraction or export of corals illegal in Mauritius; implementing a coral lagoon replenishment scheme, which includes growing corals and fish replenishment; developing new sustainable fisheries approach with local fishing communities and innovative aquaculture techniques, encouraging organic compost and fertilisers in the agriculture sector which would curb the run-off of toxic sediments into the lagoon. However, we recognise that more can be done, particularly in collaboration with the tourism sector. Blue Bay Marine Park (left); Coral growing scheme (right)

4 CONSERVATION EFFORTS IN MAURITIUS The main aim of the sculptures is to assist coral conservation in Mauritius. In the first place, the sculptures will serve as artificial reefs where organisms such as algae can grow and fish and actual polyps can thrive, thus regenerating a marine ecosystem; secondly, they will act as support for coral farming as fragments of corals are attached to them, and allowed to grow. Finally, the sculptures will be an attraction for snorkelers and scubadrivers, thereby drawing them away from actual corals and reducing pressure on the latter. SCIENCE The pieces will also be fitted with devices to monitor and record factors such as ocean acidity, temperature and acoustics; this information will then be used in scientific research and conservation. A project in harmony with the natural environment The sculptures will be built out of material to encourage coral growth and ensure no toxins are released, e.g., with PH-neutral, marine concrete that is 20 times stronger than ordinary concrete thus reducing risk of loose fragments and with texture replicating a reef environment. Whilst being used for coral replenishment and scientific monitoring, funding for the project will also contribute to the creation of employment for the local community. The locations of the Coral Gardens have been chosen where coral growth is to be encouraged. This will encourage tourists to cluster in certain regions, allowing coral growth to take place in other areas undisturbed. LOCAL LIVELIHOODS To maintain and monitor the sculptures after the initial installation, local fishermen will be employed, thus also propagating awareness on sustainable income from the sea. Funding for this project will thus go not only to the creation of beautiful art pieces but also towards advancing science and conservation. The Underwater Dodo will have certain special features that will also allow other species to grow, such as holes for coral, squirrel fish, puffer fish, moray eels as well as various crustaceans such as crabs and lobsters. In addition, there will be the opportunity to use the sculpture for other scientific experiments around ocean acoustics and measurements of salinity and sea temperatures off the coast of Mauritius. Preserving corals preserving history preserving beauty

5 Born in 1974 to an English father and Guyanese mother, Taylor grew up in Europe and Asia, where he spent much of his early childhood exploring the coral reefs of Malaysia. Educated in the South East of England, Taylor graduated from the London Institute of Arts in 1998 with a BA Honours in Sculpture and went on to become a fully qualified diving instructor and underwater naturalist. In 2006, Taylor founded and created the world's first underwater sculpture park. Situated off the coast of Grenada in the West Indies it is now listed as one of the Top 25 Wonders of the World by National Geographic. His latest creation is MUSA (Museo Subaquatico de Arte), a monumental museum with a collection of over 450 public sculptural works, submerged off the coast of Cancun, Mexico; described by Forbes as one of the world's most unique travel destinations. Both these ambitious, permanent public works have a practical, functional aspect, facilitating positive interactions between people and fragile underwater habitats while at the same relieving pressure on natural resources. His pioneering public art projects are not only examples of successful marine conservation, but inspirational works of art that seek to encourage environmental awareness, instigate social change and lead us to appreciate the breathtaking natural beauty of the underwater world. About the Port Louis Hub Global Shapers The Global Shapers Community is the World Economic Forum s initiative for youth under 33 years of age with leadership capacities. Organised in Hubs around major cities in the world, the GSC is a community based on values, innovation, impact and leadership for positive change, all of which is demonstrated through the choice of each Hub to carry out impactful projects in their local communities. The Port Louis Hub was officially launched on 5 May 2012, and is now leading the Underwater Dodos project as its flagship project. This project is perfectly in line with the values of the Hub: since its inception, it has shown a distinct passion for all things sea- related. Maybe because the identity of a Mauritian is invariably linked to the sea

6 Annex I Funding and Budgeting Two sites have been tentatively identified in Mauritius, and one in Rodrigues, for the location of the Underwater Sculpture Garden. Each site is of about 400m 2. The sculptures will be placed at depths of around 6m for snorkelers, to 15m for scuba-divers. How the project will support Coral Conservation in Mauritius Initial funding is needed to set up the sculptures in the Underwater Sculpture Garden. This is estimated at US$500,000 for the commissioning, construction and installation of the pieces. This is one-off funding that will be raised to build the Sculpture Gardens. Visitors will then be requested a voluntary contribution to pay to visit the sculptures. Each tray of coral costs $25. So for every 5 visitors paying $5, an additional tray can be purchased and coral nurtured to be placed in the sea in a protected site. These sites will be monitored by the Ministry of Fisheries in partnership with the NGO.

7 It is estimated that there are around 20,000 tourist scuba divers and snorkelers each year in Mauritius. If even half of these tourists visited the site and contributed $5, this would amount to 10,000 x $5 = $50,000 per annum. This could purchase 2000 trays of coral fragments that could be used to re-grow coral in damaged areas. Hence it is critical to build the coral sculpture gardens in such a way to attract 10,000 visitors a year. It is this funding that we are looking to raise over the next 12 months to commission the pieces for the Undersea Sculpture Park. Each site will be marked by buoys. A local guide will be employed at each site to welcome visitors and explain the concept of the Sculpture Gardens and Underwater Dodo. How the park will be operated 1 person to remain on guard at each location. They would supervise the park and report any damaging behaviour to the authorities The park would be marked by buoys for the safety of snorkelers and divers, however, all fishermen and public will be granted access for free. A voluntary contribution of $5 is requested from each visitor to go toward the cost of administering the site and further conservation. This should go via the Dive Centres. The guard will take a count of the how many visitors from each dive centre to ensure clear accounting. No funding to be used for activities other than this. In addition, a series of pieces will be commissioned to reflect local Mauritian culture and history. Corporate sponsors over $100,000 may also commission pieces for the Sculpture Garden, in agreement with the NGO.

8 The NGO An independent NGO will be established for the purpose of designing, developing and implementing the Coral Sculpture Garden Project. This will be a Not for Profit organisation, run by volunteers and will work in partnership with NGOs, Government, civil organisations, dive centres and corporate partners. Audited statements and all investments will be administered by the NGO. Project finance (estimates) One off construction costs $500,000 for commissioning, constructing and positioning of initial sculpture pieces Revenue Corporate donations: $250,000 Donors: $250,000 Annual operational costs $10,000 guard $1000 annual maintenance costs of the sculpture garden Annual maintenance revenues $11,000 visitor receipts, sponsorship and crowdfunding Annual visitor receipts are used to fund the construction Expected funding of $50,000 from tourist visitors. Receipts used to purchase trays of coral for NGO to place, in partnership with Albion Fisheries Research Centre, Mauritius Oceanography Institute and organisation of Mauritian Hoteliers (AHRIM).

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