What if...

A WWII warship could mobilize a global network of researchers, philanthropists and artists... to solve marine health problems through the Power of Play?

“This ship will quickly become a premier dive site, perhaps even rivaling the Rhone as an internationally recognized attraction.”

Clive Petrovic, ARK Founding Member, Marine Biologist & Environmental Consultant

Yo44

Honoring Our History

Saving a decorated WWII ship from destruction, and transforming her into a living symbol of rebirth and regeneration, to honor those who gave their lives in the name of a better world.

 

Kraken

Epic Art Dive Site

The way to make an impact and long-term change is to do something amazing, jaw dropping, stunning... and of course: BIG.

coralGrowth

Coral Restoration & Science

Coral out-planting and thoughtful engineering kick-start a thriving new reef habitat, to alleviate pressure from over-trafficked dive sites while providing a controlled "eDNA" research platform for new discoveries on the impacts of artificial reefs.

students

Youth Swim Education

Swim, dive and ocean education programs for BVI youth, to empower our young stewards of these pristine islands into a bright and prosperous future.

grouper

Goliath Grouper Rehabilitation

A "must see" underwater art gallery designed to become a thriving coral reef and optimal rehabilitation site for endangered marine life populations.

 

Dive Site

Dive Tourism

A world class eco-adventure dive site that solves reef health challenges through fun, creative methods that unite communities and add economic horsepower for generations to come.


What is the BVI Art Reef?

"This project breaks new ground here in the BVI... In my years in the Territory, this is the first time a proposed ship sinking has undergone such a detailed planning process... I have no doubt this will be a successful undertaking that will set the standards and will be used as a guide for all future artificial reef projects in the BVI."

—Clive Petrovic, ARK, Marine Biologist & Environmental Consultant

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This is the story of war and rebirth.

This is the story of learning from past lessons and coming together to create something greater; rooted in joy and fueled by the power of play.

This is the story of a group of friends from around the world who fell in love with the BVIs...

And turned a weapon of war into a platform for unity— and a catalyst for new growth.

This charitable kick-off project in the British Virgin Islands combines art, ocean conservation, world history, marine science and economy...

To solve a series of challenges in the BVIs by asking:

How can we use play and collaboration to install permanent solutions that boost the local economy, secure the prosperity of these pristine islands for generations to come?

Our solution:

Build a "fantasy art eco-dive" and ocean conservation site that puts the BVIs on the map for having one of the most unique and meaningful dive sites in the world...

...And one of the most forward-thinking approaches to creative problem solving that secures the education of its youth and the health and prosperity of this island nation.

This is about shifting the direction of one of the world's most beautiful island nations at a critical time of growth, by inviting the world to recognize its beauty in environmentally sustainable ways...

And inviting its youth into the ocean to play, so they can become powerful stewards who guide these islands to prosperity for generations to come.

und the world to fall in love with our oceans, come visit the beautiful BVIs, dive this incredible site and/or support the programs around this project to inspire and empower the next generation of young ocean stewards in the BVIs, through youth swim, snorkel and dive programs as well as projects helping rebuild this island nation after Hurricane Irma.

Thanks for your passion for our beautiful oceans— and for understanding how important they are to ALL of our survival.

Come dive with us this year!

How Did We Do It?

We rallied a collaborative team of artists, engineers, scientists and donors to save a decorated WW2 ship from being scrapped for metal— suspected to be one of only 5 ships who survived Pearl Harbor— and transformed her into thriving artificial reef and “fantasy adventure dive site”...

...To rehabilitate heavily over-fished marine populations in ways that boost income for local dive operators and the BVI economy...

… Using breathtaking art sculptures as coral out-planting platforms to kick-start a thriving reef ecosystem...

… That provides a controlled platform for cutting-edge "e-DNA" marine science research, as well as swim and marine stewardship programs for local BVI kids.

 

If you’re a diver, we promise:

This will be one THE most memorable reefs you’ll ever experience.

Core Initiatives

  • UNITE: Honor Our World History
    Save the YO-44 (aka "Kodiak Queen") from demolition— one of just 5 surviving ships from WW2 Pearl Harbor— and transform her into a living symbol of joy, rebirth and regeneration.
  • INSPIRE: Art As Healing
    Create an ever-evolving "must see" sunken art gallery that attracts divers from around the world, with sculptures and dive-throughs strategically designed to delight both divers and marine life alike.
  • HEAL: Ocean Conservation & Rehabilitation
    Sculptures act coral out-planting platforms, and provide feeding optimal feeding grounds and hiding spaces for the heavily over-fished Goliath Grouper and other marine life populations.
  • ADVANCE: Marine Science & Stewardship
    Electrical impulses kick-start coral growth to create a thriving platform for cutting-edge research in marine health sciences, to advance our understanding and stewardship of fragile marine ecosystems.
  • IMPACT: Boost Local Economy & Community
    Provide marine rehabilitation solutions that BENEFIT the local economy (vs prohibiting fisherman and dive operators), with charitable proceeds supporting swim and marine education programs for kids.
  • LEGACY: A Self-Sustaining Marine Park
    Dive tourism proceeds from this incredible dive site maintain the health of the reef, support further research; and provide a fun, creative platform for worldwide artists, engineers, scientists, technologists, philanthropists and the global community to continue building on.
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March 2018, Kodiak Queen Update:

In March of 2018, after standing strong through 2017's Cat 5 storms without a dent, the BVIs were hit by another round of record-breaking swells, reported to be the worst since at least 1990. After all the battering from previous storms, this last round of swells were powerful enough to tear away some of the ship's railings and a port side chunk of the ship; and with it the Kraken sculpture.

The good news is the ship is still a safe and VERY fun dive, and natural corals and all kinds of marine life continue to thrive, and make the site their permanent home.

While we're deeply saddened by the loss of the sculpture, we're happy to learn that the engineering was strong enough to withstand a Cat 5 storm, and it was only after 8 months of nonstop battering that a key attachment point of the ship itself was ripped away.

Most importantly, we're delighted to see how much coral and marine growth has taken place in one year alone– and keeps surviving the storms and swells. (The ocean is amazing!)

Kodiak Queen Coral Growth
Photo from a scouting dive just after the damage in March 2018, showing the beautiful life that continues to grow in spite of 12 months of record-breaking storms and swells!

 


FAQ - What will I see on the dive?

How deep is it?
The Kodiak Queen still sits about 60’ at her deepest, with her highest point about 15 - 17’ below the surface.

What will one see there?
You'll see smaller corals growing on already growing on their own, plus countless schools of fish who have made the Kodiak Queen their home. Big schools of large snapper, blue runners, small juveniles, dolphins, sea turtles... and NO lion fish of late, which is fantastic! Locals have even mentioned needing to bring their identification book each time, as they keep spotting new types of fish they've never seen! Locals also report that there’s been a school of dolphins living in the BVIs since the storms... perhaps they came as kind guardians to oversee the regrowth. 😉

How did the hurricanes damage the sculpture?
Impressively, the Kraken sculpture and Kodiak Queen both survived two massive hurricanes without serious damage. It was only after an ongoing battery of massive swells, one of the biggest series of swell events in the history of the BVIs, that the sculpture finally gave in. The swells shifted the entire ship 30 feet in position, damaging the "head" of the Kraken, originally intended to be a hiding and mating area for Goliath Grouper. At present the tentacles are still poking up and around off the ship— not quite the sculpture originally intended, but looking pretty wild nonetheless. Happily, the interior chambers of the ship are still in tact and awesome to dive!

How can I dive it?
The dive site is off Virgin Gorda and open to anyone to dive. However for the best experience and to get the full story, we recommend arranging your dive through Dive BVI, Sail Caribbean Divers, or Sunchaser Scuba.

How can I support?
Thanks for caring! You can support the Art Reef initiatives and rebuilding of these islands by:

  1. Watching and sharing the award-winning documentary here
  2. Making a donation to the Unite BVI Foundation, supporting projects to help tackle climate change, inspire the next generation of young ocean stewards, and rebuild the BVI nation after the damage of Hurricane Irma.For more information and to support, contact: donate@unitebvi.com

Our firm philosophy with Secret Samurai is that every challenge presents new opportunities. And while it looks like the Kraken is now a different part of the ship's epic story than originally planned, she is down there, teeming with life, protecting the area from fishing... and providing us and other researchers a great platform to gather key data on how to create the most invincible (and ideally repeatable) artificial reefs from here forward.

Plus, our hope is that the award-winning documentary about this project, The Kodiak Queen, will inspire people around the world to fall in love with our oceans, come visit the beautiful BVIs, dive this incredible site and/or support the programs around this project to inspire and empower the next generation of young ocean stewards in the BVIs, through youth swim, snorkel and dive programs as well as projects helping rebuild this island nation after Hurricane Irma.

Thanks for your passion for our beautiful oceans— and for understanding how important they are to ALL of our survival.

Come dive with us this year!


How Can I Get Involved?

Our projects are a collaborative effort of artists, engineers, entrepreneurs, scientists, philanthropists, and friends from around the world. Help support this effort in whatever way you'd like.

Come dive the site, sponsor an art sculpture, sponsor a science effort... Just cheer us on. This is your reef as much as ours.

Click here to learn more or contact us.

swimEducation