The seabeds hold a lot of treasures. Near Cancun, arts are in the service of the environment thanks to an insolite project : the world largest underwater museum. Described by Forbes as one of the world’s most unique travel destinations, this project was conceived as an original response to the degradation of the coral reefs due to mass tourism. Can arts help saving our oceans ?
The visit of this museum is a breathtaking experience. Imagine yourself one moment admiring the sculptures, trying to understand the story they are trying to tell you with their expressions and all this from the beautiful underworld. The most amazing part is to observe how the nature has taken back its rights. Indeed, the natural materials used to build the sculptures allow the reefs to grow, creating an artificial reef all over the sculptures with hundreds of submarine animals.
An encouraging initiative, knowing the damages caused by the climate change and mass tourism on the coral reefs.
Incidentally the Australian Great Barrier Reef has been devastated, losing 67% of its surface area in 2016 because of global warming.
The meso american coral reef would also be threatened by climate change according to Healthy Reef Initiative (HRI). In 2012, they were already alarming saying that 30% of the reefs were in a critical state compared to 6% 3 years before.
Several paths can be explored to change course : among them the creation of protected marine areas and the participation of the touristic sector in the protection of the biodiversity.
The MUSA museum is contributing in its way to the marine conservation creating a new ecosystem relieving pressure on natural resources. Inaugurated in late 2009 with more than 500 sculptures representing the evolution of the mayan world, it gathers the works of the British artist Jason de Caires Taylor.
According to himself, his pioneering art projects seek to encourage environmental awareness and instigate social change, leading us to appreciate the breathtaking natural beauty of the underwater world.
Another example of arts project raising awareness about the environment : Comunité - a music festival in Mexico organized in partnership with Restore Coral, a local organization aiming to protect the coral reefs.
I have always had a feeling of rejection thinking about Cancun, because of the a priori of ugly mass tourism destination. And after three months living in Mexico, I am glad that I finally decided to go beyond that to meet with the other face of the city. Nothing can be 100% black or white. And this experience proved me that besides the hundreds of all inclusive hotels, there is a community of local people living there who do not agree with the established system. They fight in their way to protect what is left ; protesting against the destruction of the mangrove and cleaning the seabeds from the plastic bags and other waste.
Cancun now counts with about 1.7 millions visitors a year, a fixed poblation of 50 000 habitants and the expansion is not stopping there. Mexico has the ambition to become the 5th world destination by 2018.
However the tourism honey pot need to be used to protect the environment instead of destroying it. And if the common sense and the proven scientific evidence about climate change are irrefutable but not convincing enough, there are two triggers that usually push the humans to act : money and emotions.
The economic argument will eventually push the companies and governments to act. A report from the Australian Institute think tank evaluate the lost of almost 800 million euros of touristic income due to the degradation of the coral reefs in Australia.
From the tourists side, the search for new experiences seems to be a growing trend among the travellers. So the tourists might be diverted from the natural coral reefs with alternative experiences such as underwater museums, and act consciously while having fun in a music festival. These new creative initiatives might contribute to lead a new way.