Sir Richard Branson, the Maverick1000 group of entrepreneurs and Unite BVI, together with Secret Samurai Productions, Commercial Dive Services, Beneath the Waves, the Association of Reef Keepers and Owen Buggy, have joined forces to create a unique dive site in the British Virgin lslands, called the Maverick BVI Art Reef.
The site creates an invaluable marine habitat, as well as a dive site with a permanent eco-friendly underwater art installation that doubles in function – both as a coral nursery out-planting canvas as well as a “fantasy dive experience” – boosting dive tourism in the BVI. The project aims to raise awareness of the important environmental issues facing our oceans and inspire conservationist efforts to find sustainable solutions to these challenges.
The idea started when photographer Owen Buggy, who was working on Necker Island at the time discovered that the Kodiak Queen had historical significance. The ship had been earmarked to be scrapped by the Government of the BVI when Owen presented the idea to Sir Richard Branson, who lives in the BVI. The remaining question was how to raise the funds to purchase, clean and sink the ship, and importantly: how to make it meaningful and with long-term impact.
Sir Richard Branson’s non-profit organisation, Unite BVI, presented the challenge to a group of innovative entrepreneurs staying on Necker Island called Maverick1000. The challenge was presented to come up with a solution to the problems facing the Kodiak Queen.
Members of the Maverick group, which included Secret Samurai Production partners, came up with the solution spot on and enthusiastically committed to partner with Sir Richard Branson and Unite BVI to appeal to the BVI Government for permission to give the ship an honourable and rejuvenating next chapter to her long career at sea.
The project will have short and long term positive impact on the area. Phase two of the project will involve coral restoration efforts, species monitoring, swim programs for members of the local community, cutting edge e-DNA research and ocean conservation education. It will also act as an awareness programmes to protect vulnerable species and address other challenges threatening the health of the oceans. The project is a carefully designed sustainable model. Local dive operators have committed to encourage guests to make a ‘built-in’ donation in addition to the usual rate charged.
The Art Reef is an example of what is possible when a group of like-minded entrepreneurs, artists, engineers, conservation philanthropists, scientists and adventurers come together from across the globe. The group has created and implemented an innovative approach to solving local challenges with large-scale impact by creating an opportunity to amplify messages about the challenges that face our oceans.
Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group Founder, said, “The BVI Art Reef gives us a unique platform to capture people’s attention on the importance of addressing ocean conservation and in particular, combat climate change, protect our coral reefs and rehabilitate vulnerable marine species. This is an incredible opportunity to create one of the most meaningful dive sites in the world.”
The Kodiak Queen has served for many years in locations and on oceans across the globe, beginning life as a fuelling vessel in World War 2. The ship earned a battle star for her services in the Pacific through the rest of WW2, before being retired to take on a new role as fishing vessel.
Thanks to the engineering and technical expertise and hard work of Lead Consultant, Chris Juredin and his hard-working team at the Commercial Dive Services, the ship has embarked on a new adventure as it evolves from an artificial reef to a natural one at its final resting place on the bottom of the ocean. The site also features an 80 foot long Giant Kraken, designed and built by Secret Samurai Productions, a talented team of artists lead by Producers Aydika James and Mike Cline, and Sculpt Team Lead Drew Shook.
For more information or to make a donation please visit www.divethebviartreef.com