By Gene Muchanski & Dana Polites
Southeast News Correspondents
Southeast Dive News &
Dive News Network
Something very exciting is happening in Deerfield Beach, Florida on Sunday, June 7, 2015. A barge with fifteen concrete Moai Heads will be sunk ½ mile off shore in seventy feet of water. This elaborate public art project may be one of the most interesting dive sites ever created.
The Rapa Nui Reef Project is the vision of Margaret Blume, Founder and Benefactor. Margaret wanted to do something BIG in environmental conservation using art. She had an idea about creating an underwater park and marine habitat using fifteen Moai figures. Her inspiration came from Easter Island, off the coast of Chile, famous for the Rapa Nui civilization that created 887 giant stone statues (Moai) over hundreds of years. After consulting with Arilton Pavan, owner of Dixie Divers, Margret brought the project idea to the Women’s Club of Deerfiled Beach and funded it with a $500,000 grant. The planning committee then commissioned Artist Dennis MacDonald from Zibitz Studioz to create the Rapa Nui Reef.
Southeast Dive News Correspondents Gene Muchanski and Dana Polites attended the “Break the Moai Mold Celebration” in Stuart, Florida on April 21st and got the rundown on the Rapa Nui Reef Project. Each of the 15 Moai Heads were cast in concrete in place, on the barge during construction, using giant molds. Hence the, “Break the Mold” celebration after the last figure was cast. The event was well attended; Members of the Women’s Club of Deerfield Beach, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Deerfield Chamber of Commerce, District 1 Commissioner Joe Miller, Local Politicians, Diving Media and Local TV Stations, Jim “Chiefy” Mathie, Dixie Divers and numerous local divers and art lovers. The support for the project is incredible.
The Rapa Nui Reef is built on a barge, 150 feet long by 45 feet wide and 9 feet deep. Dennis constructed a rubble wall around the 15 Moai Statues to serve as an underwater habitat for the fish population of Deerfield Beach. The project is well on its way and is scheduled to be completed by late May. On June 1st, the barge will be towed down the St. Lucie River, out to the ocean and down to Boca Raton and Deerfield Beach. After two days of dedications and public events, the Rapa Nui Reef barge will be sunk in 70 feet of water off the coast of Deerfield Beach. Jim “Chiefy” Mathie estimates that local Dive Boat Operators will start running charters out to the Rapa Nui Reef dive site as soon as the safety committee can establish that the project was sunk according to plan and it is safe to dive on the new man made reef. Fish and Lobster are welcome to adopt their new home immediately.
YouTube Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDkc-c5da2w
The main source of information on Rapa Nui Reef can be found on their facebook page at www.facebook.com/RapaNuiReef A web site is currently under construction.