Diving trail and reef drift financially behind

Written by Samantha Sheradsky on June 7, 2022


Diving trail and reef drift financially behind

ReefLine, which aims to sink a seven-mile scuba art trail and artificial coral reef from 15 to 20 feet off Miami Beach’s Fourth Street this summer, has been delayed as collection funds failed.

In 2021, representatives told the Miami Beach Sustainability Committee that the seven-phase trail’s first art installation would be in the water by December 2021. However, it was delayed due to Covid-19 and moved to summer 2022.

Now, founder Kate Fleming tells Miami Today she doesn’t know when the first installation will be due to poor fundraising. She hopes for summer or fall, depending on the fundraiser. Otherwise, she says, she believes it will be next spring.

BlueLab Preservation Society seeks to raise funds to deploy each reef in the project. It is estimated that it costs $1 million to fabricate each reef and place them individually.

“There were a lot of things to put in order and now we have to focus on fundraising to make sure everything runs smoothly,” Ms Fleming said.

This scientific project founded by women was created with the collaboration of marine biologists, researchers, architects and coastal engineers. Their mission is to fight climate change.

Experts and scientists from Harvard University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are involved in the development and design of artificial reefs. Twenty years ago, Nova Southeastern University organized a series of experimental artificial reefs north of South Pointe Park to First Street on Miami Beach.

Mr. Fleming, Founder and Director of Bridge Initiative, leads a non-profit organization that connects art and science to create public art for environmental advocacy. She is also Vice President of BlueLab Preservation Society, which tackles the negative aspects of ocean pollution, climate change and environmental issues by applying art, science, culture and design.

They work with the City of Miami Beach, University of Miami scientists, the Coral Mophological Group, and visual media to protect coral reefs.

The project is supported by grants and private investors, including the Miami-based Knight Foundation. In 2019, ReefLine won the Knight Arts Challenge.

Miss Fleming and her team had to obtain permits to start work.

“We worked with Cummins Cederberg Coastal & Marine Engineers to perform C4 surveys and biometrics and also applied for Army Corps of Engineers, DERM [Department of Environmental Management]and permits from the Florida Environmental Protection Agency,” Miss Fleming said. “We’re still fundraising so we can actually fabricate and deploy this reef.”

Shohei Shigematsu, partner of the New York organization OMA, proposed the master plan for the project. According to OMA’s website, he has been the driving force behind most of the organization’s projects as he leads the company’s varied portfolio.

The current tab was set between $500,000 and $800,000, which would include start-up, permitting, research, and master plan costs, with the cost of units being lower.

The first module will consist of two art installations: a model of an underwater “traffic jam” and the “underwater madness”, which will look like the circle made by OMA.

The completed project includes an underwater public sculpture park, a snorkeling trail and a 7-mile-long artificial reef, connected by breakwaters and reducing water energy from storms and swells. .

Leandro Erlich, an Argentinean artist who created the first reef, plans to create an underwater depiction of “Order of Importance”, which is a 22 car-shaped reef made of sand. It will most likely be covered in marine life, such as overgrown corals and sponges, within 10 years.

“It looks a bit like a dystopian underwater parking lot. Kind of a commentary on what our future might be like,” Miss Fleming said.

All seven phases are expected to be completed in five to ten years when Bluelab fully obtains permits from the Army Corps of Engineers. The number of art installations to be poured for the project is not yet final.

A recent report said scale models of early installations were being readied for testing on UM’s wave simulator, which can replicate category five hurricanes. The hardware of the scale models will encourage the habitation of marine life.

“We have a reservoir at the University of Miami, so we tested it at scale with different storm systems and different surf waves to make sure it didn’t affect the surf, because the community was concerned. “, said Miss Fleming.

“I hope this teaches [visitors] something new and it also brings in a different crowd that is maybe more for ecotourism,” she said. “I hope this will change the way people use and behave on the beach because once they know there are beautiful fish and sea life, maybe they will stop littering all over the place. .”

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