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Living Art: Colleen Flanigan's Underwater Sculpture Restores Coral
Environment | July 08, 2013

Living Art: Colleen Flanigan's Underwater Sculpture Restores Coral

The coral reef provides an essential habitat to promote biodiversity in our oceans—and it's dying. Colleen Flanigan is working to change that. An artist, TED Senior Fellow, and socio-ecological activist, Flanigan started the Living Sea Sculptures project to help restore our coral reef. In a post for GOOD Magazine, the environment speaker says that "art is increasingly becoming a growing part of the coral regeneration movement." That's why her project combines the technology developed by The Global Coral Reef Alliance (Biorock® mineral accretion) with artistic sculpture to provide a hospitable environment for coral and other organisms to repopulate.

"Climate change and carbon absorption are two of the major threats endangering corals," Flanigan explains, "as well as overfishing, disease, reckless development, and pollution." Her underwater sculptures help to combat those forces and rapidly regenerate coral. "The way [Biorock®] works is that by running a low volt current directly through the metal," she writes in the article, "it precipitates limestone minerals naturally occurring in seawater to deposit onto the electrified form of any shape or size." Thus, her sculptures are both visually pleasing and beneficial to the environment. "It's a true and rare expression of art as ecology," she adds.

Her most recent project, DNA Dividing in Cancun, Mexico, is awaiting the go-ahead for installation. But in the meantime, Flanigan urges others to get involved and create a "coral conservatory" of their own. She shares her message with audiences young and old, using her socio-ecological alter-ego "Miss Snail Pail" to drive the message home. In her public speaking, she shows audiences how to get involved with the movement and become a positive part of the land-sea connection we all share.
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