British Artist Creates Sculptures to Save Mexico Reefs

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And now onto Mexico's Cancun beach resort, where a British artist is creating a special underwater exhibition. His hundreds of cement sculptures will provide a new habitat for natural reefs that are in rapid decline.

It's a ghostly scene - a crowd of life-sized statues standing on the sea-floor off Cancun, Mexico.

The purpose of this stony congregation says its creator, Jason de Caires-Taylor, is twofold.

[Jason de Caires-Taylor, British Artist]:
"I think over a 750,000 people come to the marine park every year and that puts a lot of pressure on the natural reefs so, the idea is to draw those visitors away, which gives the other reefs a bit of respite but it's also to create a habitat space and to increase the overall biodiversity of the reefs here in Cancun."

By the time it's completed, the installation will comprise more than 400 statues, all modeled from photographs of real people.

Scientists say nearly 30 percent of the world's coral reefs have already been lost and another two-thirds are under serious threat because of pollution and global warming.

Some environmentalists see artificial reefs as a small way to protect the remaining patches of coral, and create new ones.

And De Caires-Taylor hopes that his low-acidity, rock-mimicking cement figures will transform over time into one of these ever-changing artificial reefs.

[Jason de Caires-Taylor, British artist]:
"Life is always down to changing, so all of these figures will be constantly evolving over time and that's how our lives are. We're continuously evolving, continuously changing. I hope this artwork somehow reflects that."

The 180 ton artwork, named "Silent Evolution", will be inaugurated on November 27 to mark the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, one of Mexico's most popular beach-side tourist resorts.

De Caires-Taylor says he wants the reef to renew and sustain marine life - a concrete reminder of what is possible.

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