The oceans are in trouble. Warming waters. Species die off. Overfishing. Coral reefs bleaching.
The signs are all there, but maybe art can save the day… and the world.
Two initiatives by Florida groups are working to get the word out in creative ways.
“The one we fear the most is the one we can’t live without,” says Bobby “Radical” Monroe, an artist who spends his spare time diving with sharks and wrestling pythons. “A few years ago I saw a documentary called Sharkwater by Rob Stewart about the killing of millions of sharks. The Chinese are the worst offenders. Already 90% of the world’s shark populations have been annihilated. Once caught on long lines they are brought on board, their fins are cut off and the sharks are thrown back into the water still alive where they suffer an agonizing death by suffocation. They use the fins for soup, a status dish in Asian countries, where its use can be traced back to an emperor from the Song Dynasty (960-1279) who is thought to have invented the dish to show off his power and wealth.”
“Shark finning is a multi-billion-dollar industry. It corrupts governments worldwide and is only second to the illegal drug and gun trade. Sharks are a keystone species, meaning that the world cannot survive without them. Sharks have been on this planet for 450 million years. Without sharks policing the oceans, the world’s largest ecosystem will collapse. Sharks eat many species of marine life to a proportionate number so that those prey species don’t cause harm to the ecosystem by becoming too populous.”
Stewart died while making another film on the shark finning industry, and Monroe felt he needed to pick up where he left off and get the word out but this time, he is targeting a younger generation.
“If we get to kids and make them realize Shark Fin Soup is uncool then that gets the ball rolling to stop this. As a result, the kids in China will emulate the kids in America and will pressure their parents into not buying Shark Fin Soup. Bam! By eliminating the demand, this will cut the link. It would be like mommy making a pot of Bambi or Mickey Mouse soup, the kids would be appalled. It is this mindset that will save our seas and our planet from mass extinction.”
He spent almost a year developing Eco Sharks Rescue, a non-profit that has a series of comic books, a water park in development, a line of toys and is developing a script for a full-length animated feature film with the same name. The water park will be the tallest in the world and will feature an educational theater and Eco Sharks gift shop.
“The sole purpose of Eco Sharks Rescue is to educate the world on why we need sharks. Sharks have been portrayed as a villain in movies, like Jaws and Sharknado, and they have been sensationalized in the media. Astonishingly, soda machines have caused more deaths annually than sharks. Our toys are presently in the prototype phase of production, with 12 characters in all. The comics have full-blown stories of the characters and how they are protecting and saving the world.”
When asked how he can dive with Mako sharks and capture 10-foot pythons in the Everglades with his bare hands Monroe smiles and says “Fear is a lack of faith.” Join the pack at Eco Sharks Rescue.
The 1000 Mermaids Artificial Reef Project & Gallery is a public EcoArt project in the form of an artificial reef installation with mermaids cast from real women. After many months of planning and creating, the first 18 mermaid reefs were sunk into the ocean off South Florida in late August.
What began as a simple idea of turning models into mermaids by artists Ernest Vasquez and Sierra Rasberry turned into a larger project 3 years ago when Evan Snow of Choose954 met the duo at an event in FAT Village. He got the idea to create reef modules to attach the mermaids to and sink them to form artificial reefs.
“The artists just want to make the art but all this takes planning, permits, and money,” says Snow so he formed a foundation that eventually involved volunteers, businesses, organizations, environmental agencies, local and federal government involvement, and even the Army Corps of Engineers.
They set a goal to create 1000 body sculptures made-up of sustainable concrete which allows infant coral to adhere to it and restore Florida’s living coral reef population. Each cast is individually handcrafted by the artists that make up Miami Body Cast in collaboration with their reef-building partner Chris O’Hare of Reef Cells. Not only does this project promote eco-friendly awareness and support for the ocean, but it will also become the undersea stage for a world-renowned diving destination. The artists place plaster-soaked cloths over the models to form the shapes then cast them in concrete. The mermaid is attached to a reef formation and plaques as well as poetry are attached as well.
Thanks to the help of Palm Beach County’s Department of Environmental Resources Management (who sponsored the $13,000 cost of the barge/transportation through the use of vessel license fees and their forward-thinking programs) along with McCulley Marine Services (who provided the barge for a smooth deployment) the group successfully placed their first 18 mermaids in late August.
Fish are already seen darting in and out of the reef forms, while lobsters hide underneath and stingrays swim lazily by. The sea life approves, now bring on the coral.
1000 Mermaids Helping to Save the Ocean