DEERFIELD BEACH (CBSMiami) — The team behind the Rapa Nui artificial reef installation that flipped over during its sinking on Sunday is “committed to making the site a marine habitat and dive destination with the beauty and splendor of public art.”
That’s according to a statement from the City of Deerfield Beach which also read, “The City is saddened and disappointed with [Sunday’s] events surrounding the sinking of the barge.”
Fifteen Easter island-style statues, called Moai, were supposed to be sunk as a new artificial reef installation in the waters off Deerfield Beach on Sunday.
The barge, carrying the 150 feet long, 50 foot wide installation, was towed about a half mile off-shore. When time came to sink the barge in 70 feet of water, it overturned, causing the statues to sink head-first on a reef. The barge landed on top of it. Most of the sculptures were destroyed. One was found floating on the surface of the water, others were found below the surface broken or buried.
The Rapa Nui team used common industry standards and practices in the sinking of the barge but sinking an artificial reef is not an exact science.
Artist Dennis MacDonald created the 15 figures of Moai, thought to be the protectors of the ancient people who lived on Rapa Nui, what is now Easter Island. The project was bankrolled by Margaret Blume who wanted to mix art in public places with education and marine conservation.
Blume and her team have already begun the planning process to reform the site and see the project through to completion.
The Rapa Nui team, which came up with $500,000 to fund the original project, said they plan to raise more money to add intact sculptures to what is now a pile of wreckage.
It’s not known how much money they need but MacDonald still has the molds that he used to make the concrete figures, some of which stood 22 feet tall.
The remains of the Moai sculptures and overturned barge are about 50 feet down in the Atlantic, a half-mile east of the Deerfield Beach International Fishing Pier.
Divers are being advised not to swim inside the upside down wreckage. There are hazards such as protruding rebar and other debris that could severely injure even the most advanced diver. For now, the advice is to look from a distance.