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Museum of Underwater Art Set to Celebate First Anniversary This Sunday

August 2, 2021 Attraction No Comments

The Museum of Underwater Art’s Coral Greenhouse, located on John Brewer Reef off the coast of Townsville, is celebrating one year since opening to divers around Australia.

Installed in late 2019, and opened to the public on 1 August 2020, the Museum of Underwater Art’s Coral Greenhouse has undergone a significant physical transformation in twelve months, and has played a crucial role in supporting the region’s marine tourism industry throughout the pandemic recovery period.

Townsville Enterprise Director Visitor Economy and Marketing Lisa Woolfe said the vision of the Museum of Underwater Art had always been to develop a globally-significant asset that would build upon the region’s growing reputation of providing unique and enriching experiences for locals and visitors alike.

“Both the Coral Greenhouse and Ocean Siren have been game-changers for our tourism industry over the past twelve months, and for many it has been one of the key attractions to pull our marine operators through the pandemic recovery,” Ms Woolfe said.

“While the Coral Greenhouse was launched amid national border closures and COVID restrictions, Australia’s first underwater museum has acted as a catalyst for significant national and global media coverage, and further cemented our region as the global centre of excellence for marine science, education and research for the Great Barrier Reef.”

“The physical changes in the appearance of the Greenhouse, and future developments of the project are a positive sign of things for the future, when border restrictions are a thing of the past, and we can openly welcome visitors from across the nation and the world, to share in this one-of-a-kind attraction.”

Key achievements:

  • The purpose of MOUA has always been to highlight reef conservation, restoration and education on a global scale, and recent surveys show encouraging environmental results:
    • A 295% increase in the total number of individuals across 41 species of fish, compared to a pre-installation baseline survey
    • New ‘recruits’ growing on the structure (pocillopora recruits – a genus of stony corals in the family Pocilloporidae commonly called cauliflower corals and brush corals)
  • The Museum of Underwater Art has achieved global award recognition:
    • Voyages Eco Creativity Award, China
    • New Culture Destination of the Year (Asia/Pacific) finalist, LCD Berlin Awards
    • Banksia Foundation Sustainability Awards (finalist), Australia
  • When first launched, the project attracted considerable global media coverage:
    • 400 positive pieces of press coverage globally, including – China, Japan, India, UK, Australia, New Zealand
    • Over 184 million potential reach through social and traditional media

The positive media coverage, and elevation of the Townsville North Queensland region as a globally-significant reef destination has been one of many benefits of the project in the last twelve months, with positive environmental milestones also achieved.

Museum of Underwater Art Deputy Chair, and marine scientist, Dr Adam Smith said the installation has shown positive signs of ecological change, with many marine species now calling the Greenhouse home.

“The site where we have located the Greenhouse is close to a healthy coral reef suitable for SCUBA and snorkellers.  The Museum of Underwater Art is encouraging people to visit the reef and observe a beautiful and thought provoking combination of art, science and nature. This unique experience is also inspiring visitors to take action to research, protect and restore the reef,” Dr Smith said.

“Our research team at Reef Ecologic in collaboration with citizen scientists and traditional owners have initiated new research programs at the Coral Greenhouse – like coral gardening, which not only adds to the site’s aesthetic but also gives corals of opportunities new life, and attracts a diversity of fish.”

The Coral Greenhouse is under a comprehensive monitoring program where qualified marine scientists conduct regular surveys, and this is also something that visitors can participate in with onboard dive survey cards, and existing programs like the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authorities ‘Eye on the Reef’ program encouraging citizen scientists to be part of the reef’s story.

Future stages of the Museum of Underwater Art are planned for Magnetic Island and Palm Island, with community consultation underway.

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