Swim With a Pineapple Under the Sea at America's First Museum for Scuba Divers

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iStock

At the first underwater museum in the U.S., you’ll find a motley crew of characters. There's an oversized skull, a deer, a pineapple, and a model of undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau's scuba mask.

Seven sculptures in total are coming to the Underwater Museum of Art—UMA for short, pronounced like the actress—which will make its debut off the coast of South Walton, Florida, in late June.

A skull sculpture
Underwater Museum of Art

Unlike most museums, visitors don't need to buy tickets. But they will need their own scuba or freediving gear, plus a boat to get to the diving spot, which is located less than a mile off the coast of Grayton Beach.

The sculptures lie at a depth of 60 feet in an area containing an artificial reef, which has grown over the years in an effort to encourage marine life. And statues certainly aren't the only thing to admire underwater—divers have a good chance of spotting turtles, snappers, groupers, and all types of reef fish, according to Andy McAlexander, president of the South Walton Artificial Reef Association (SWARA), which founded the museum in collaboration with the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County (CAA).

"It's the Gulf of Mexico. Anything could swim by you," McAlexander says.

A turtle reef
A turtle reef in the South Walton Artificial Reef
Underwater Museum of Art

McAlexander played a key role in helping UMA get off the ground, and organizers plan to continue expanding their underwater art collection. "We plan on doing it every year, so we'll select between five and seven [artworks] a year from now on," he tells Mental Floss.

When the CAA put out the call for artists who wanted to submit (and submerge) their artwork, they received about 20 entries. Above all else, the sculptures had to be environmentally-friendly and toxin-free, so materials were limited to steel, concrete, and aluminum. That was no problem for artist Rachel Herring, whose father owns a metal fabricating shop. She had taken a few welding lessons from him in the past and put that knowledge to use to construct a large, metal pineapple.

A pineapple sculpture
Underwater Museum of Art

"The pineapple is the symbol of friendship and welcoming, and what better way to welcome wildlife and tourists alike to the Underwater Museum of Art?" Herring writes on her website. "It is intentionally hollow to shelter small fish and wildlife. From above, the leaves splay out to create the view of a sun from above, which is the symbol of life."

Another sculpture mimicking Aqua Lung, a scuba mask invented in the '40s by Cousteau and Émile Gagnan, was created with help from local school students.

The museum may be the first permanent underwater sculpture exhibit in the U.S., but there are other places to see submerged art. In Key Largo, Florida, an underwater sculpture dubbed "Christ of the Abyss" depicts Jesus with outstretched arms.

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You Can Now Buy Your Own Harry Potter Invisibility Cloak 

Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001).
Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001).
Warner Bros.

Harry Potter fans, prepare to go nuts. Toy group Wow! Stuff has officially come out with an invisibility cloak and pre-orders begin on July 1.

According to CNET, the cloak works like a green screen and uses an app to show the wearer disappearing in photos and videos. The user can then save the photos and videos to their phone and show everyone their vanishing skills. The toy company felt compelled to warn users that they won't actually disappear, which is hilarious but worth clarifying in case someone thought they now had access to invisibility cloaks and real magic.

The creators actually examined the original cloak used on Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, now housed at Leavesden Studio, to make sure it was as close to the real one as possible.

The cloak, which is not transparent to the wearer, comes in two different versions: The standard cloak costs $70 and includes a stand to situate one’s phone for pictures. The deluxe version, which costs $80, has a serpent-themed border and a tabletop tripod so you can really go wild with photos.

The cloaks are set for an August 1 release, and have already made an impression on toy lovers, winning Innovative Toy of the Year at Sweden’s Toy Awards.

[h/t CNET]

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