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Flashback Friday: The VW Bug Artificial Reef

By Leonard Ho - Posted Jun 22, 2012 08:00 AM
Originally published June 22, 2011: This week's winner of the "Ain't that Cool" award goes to this artificial reef sculpted in the form of a classic Volkswagen Beetle. The eight ton concrete replica was created by English artist Jason deCaires Taylor for his Cancun Underwater Museum (Mexico). Read on for more details about this exhibit and the Underwater Museum.
Flashback Friday: The VW Bug Artificial Reef

Inspired! An artificial reef in the shape of a life-size VW Beetle ("Bug")

About Flashback Fridays: Every Friday, Advanced Aquarist will repost a blog article from this week one year ago. With all the content we publish, we want to share the timeless and interesting articles for our new readers as well as regulars who may have missed the origin

T h e    A r t    o f    E c o - T o u r i s m



The life-sized VW Bug replica (with a sculpture of a person on the windshield) is the latest addition to the Cancun Underwater Museum.  Engineers carefully lowered the 16,000lb showpiece 26 feet below the waves of  Manchones Reef, Mexico.  The exhibit was specifically designed to serve as an artificial reef for fish, crustaceans, and the recruitment of hard and soft corals alike.

Below is a diagram of the design elements, as well as a photo of the concrete vehicle being slowly sunk into position onto the sandy reef floor.


Before its even in place, fish are already clamoring to swim in their new playground!
Before its even in place, fish are already clamoring to swim in their new playground!

So what is the Cancun Underwater Museum?

The project founded by Jaime Gonzalez Cano of The National Marine Park, Roberto Diaz of The Cancun Nautical Association and Jason deCaires Taylor, now consists of over 400 permanent life-size sculptures, one of the largest and most ambitious underwater artificial attractions in the world.

The main goal of English artist Jason Decaires Taylor’s work is conservation.  Each of the 400 life sized sculptures are made from ph neutral clay in order to promote the growth of coral reef and marine life with the total installation occupying an area of over 150sq metres and weighing over 120 tons.

The project began November, 2009.

Here is a beautiful video of some of the awe-inspiring exhibits found at the Cancun Underwater Museum.  The video shows footage of the construction and installation processes, including the construction of the VW bug.


Author: Leonard Ho
Location: Southern California

I'm a passionate aquarist of over 30 years, a coral reef lover, and the blog editor for Advanced Aquarist. While aquarium gadgets interest me, it's really livestock (especially fish), artistry of aquariums, and "method behind the madness" processes that captivate my attention.


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