“You are putting metal junk under the Red Sea? Are you crazy?” the skeptics asked, as a life-size elephant statue was introduced into Dahab’s lighthouse diving site last week. But Abd El Rahman Elmekkawi and the i-Dive Tribe had studied the project thoroughly: the rusting of these maxi-size metal structures would allow corals to grow on it, creating an artificial new reef.
The initiative, a part of the Tribe’s Under Water Museum Coral Reef Preservation Project, includes a team of engineers, designers, divers and artists “all working together to remove toxic materials and create artistic ecofriendly statues,” Elmekkawi told BarakaBits.
The third of the series, the 800 kg elephant was built by artist Hamed Mohamed and his assistant Ahmed Hany using recycled metal parts, such as an old TV set, bicycle wheels and Shisha pipe pieces. The first two sculptures, representing the Egyptian god of sun Horus and Bess (the God of happiness), had already been transported at 14 and 18 meters under the water in a process where diving companies, Bedouin communities and i-Dive Tribe’s 50 members took part.
Should we expect to see the corals flourishing on the colorful metal soon? “We already have three statues placed 3 years ago, and there is already coral growing on it, so that is a good sign,” says Elmekkawi.