Stunning Photos Of Europe's First Underwater Museum

Europe's first underwater museum opened yesterday in the Spanish Canary Islands, off the coast of Lanzarote. The Museo Atlántico was created by British eco-sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor and consists of life-sized sculptures made of pH-neutral materials that are designed to coexist with marine life. It doubles as a large-scale artificial reef, according to EuroNews.

"Pieces of the exhibition, installed in February 2016, have already enjoyed visits from angel sharks, shoals of barracuda, sardines, octopus, marine sponges, and a butterfly stingray," the European news channel reported. The site is about 46 feet deep, and visitors can explore it by snorkeling or scuba diving. The museum is suitable for families, but there are some age and health restrictions.

“I hope that the Museo Atlántico of Lanzarote represents an entry point to a different world and promotes a better understanding of our precious marine environment and of how much we depend on it,” deCaires Taylor said at the January 10 opening of the exhibition.

The photos of the over 300 sculptures are beautiful and haunting, and some of the works make commentary on current crises such as the refugee situation in Europe. Click ahead to see the artwork.
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Photo: Courtesy of Jason deCaires Taylor.
"El Rubicón"
This work represents a group of 35 human figures "heading towards the same fate," according to the Museo Atlántico website. "They go through the threshold of a door that represents the boundary between two realities and opens up into the Atlantic Ocean." Locals from the island were used as models for these sculptures.
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Photo: Courtesy of Jason deCaires Taylor.
"Greek mythology already used the ocean as a metaphor for the origins of humanity, embryonic waters, where gods such as Zeus and Aphrodite were born," the museum notes.
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Photo: Courtesy of Jason deCaires Taylor.
"A connection between humans and nature, present in the work of the artist, with a romantic and apocalyptic touch that questions our future."
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Photo: Courtesy of Jason deCaires Taylor.
"La Balsa De Lampedusa"
Based "The Raft of the Medusa" by French Romantic painter Théodore Géricault, this work "represents how sailors were abandoned in the shipwreck off the coast of Senegal," according to the museum. "The sculpture aims to show the parallelism between that controversial situation and the current refugee crisis, where many people are being abandoned by society, due to a lack of humanity. Making us think of hope and loss at the same time, paying tribute to those who have lost their lives in their journey."
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Photo: Courtesy of Jason deCaires Taylor.
"Los Jolateros"
"A group of children on brass boats, called 'jolateros,' making reference to a local tradition and also a metaphor of a possible future for our children, and how precarious it would be to sail on a brass boat."
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Photo: Courtesy of Jason deCaires Taylor.
This couple taking a "selfie," according to the museum, "makes us think of the use of the new technologies and encourages us to take an inward look at ourselves." This sculpture is placed next to "La Balsa de Lampedusa" so their camera captures a tragic moment and "turns it into an event in the 'background' worth documenting. A harsh reality for some becomes a show for others."
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Photo: Courtesy of Jason deCaires Taylor.
"Las Esculturas Híbridas"
These half-human, half-cactus statues represent "a merge of nature and humanity living in harmony, and at the same time making a reference to the rich vegetation of Lanzarote."
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Photo: Courtesy of Jason deCaires Taylor.
"Los Fotógrafos"
Just like the “selfie” couple, these sculptures are meant to start a debate about new technologies and voyeurism.
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