One of the most exciting parts of dive travel is learning about the two separate worlds of your destination: the one above the surface of the sea, and the one below it. While most of what we love to see underwater is produced by nature, there are some points of interest that were placed there by man. Shipwrecks, artificial wrecks, and even underwater art have all become part of the living seascape in some regions, with fascinating results. Let’s take a look at just five dive destinations that have underwater sculptures on their menu of attractions.
MUSA (Cancun Underwater Museum)
The Museo Subacuatico de Arte (MUSA) lies within the Cancun National Marine Park between Cancun and Isla Mujeres, featuring 500 underwater sculptures by artist Jason deCaires Taylor and a few local Mexican artists. Each sculpture is based on a real, living human, and some depict everyday scenes from life around the world, while others provide a sort of social commentary. The sculptures are created with bioconcrete that encourages life to flourish, the effects of which are becoming more visible every day.
Lost City of Thonis-Heracleion
Abu Qir Bay, Egypt
Many people have heard of the lost city of Atlantis, which remains nothing more than myth to this day. But there are other lost cities around the world, remnants of which continue to be found underground and underwater. The lost city of Thonis-Heracleion (Egyptian and Greek names, respectively) once served as the port of entry for all ships coming from Greece around 8 BC. Succumbing to natural disasters in 8 AD, this city left behind colossal sculptures, ruins of temples, and a vast assortment of pottery shards, jewelry, coins, lamps, and other relics of a previous civilization.
Christ of the Abyss
This compelling statue was originally constructed and submerged in 1954 as a memorial to the first Italian scuba diver, Dario Gonzatti, who died in 1947. Standing at just over 8 feet (2.5 meters) tall in 45 feet (15 meters) of water with arms outstretched toward the sky, this underwater sculpture by Guido Galletti is a wildly popular scuba attraction. Over the years, several other renditions have been created from the same mold and placed in Grenada and Key Largo, Florida.
Cleopatra’s Sunken Palace
It is believed that the statues in this dive destination were part of Cleopatra’s Palace that was sunk into the sea by earthquakes 1,500 years ago. The site has been so well preserved by the sea that the City of Alexandria is making plans to start offering tours. The site contains statue of animals such as lions and sphinxes, and other ruins that include pottery, columns, and buildings with inscriptions about prominent characters of the era.
Sunken City of Baiae
Once a powerful Roman resort city, Baiae was a haven for the wealthy and powerful to pamper themselves. The city’s position over natural volcanic vents made it a prime location for its prolific medicinal hot springs, but ironically it also contributed to its eventual demise. After being sacked and abandoned, rising water levels overtook the city’s remains, submerging the crumbling remains to become a popular attraction for scuba divers, snorkelers, and glass bottom boat tours.