Jason deCaires Taylor is in the business of creating surreal and dream-like spaces, and his latest underwater sculpture is no exception. His latest project, called “Ocean Atlas,” saw him submerge an 18-foot-tall, 60-tonne statue of a girl in the seas off the coast of Nassau in the Bahamas. It is currently the largest underwater statue in the world.

The girl in the piece seems to struggle underneath a heavy burden, which is appropriate given that she was named after Atlas, the Greek god responsible for bearing the heavens on his shoulders.

As with the rest of Taylor’s numerous underwater sculptures, this one was made from a special pH-neutral cement that will allow reef organisms to thrive on its surface. His statues allow new reefs to grow where none existed before and draw tourists away from over-worked diving hotspots. This one is no exception – it was commissioned by the Bahamas Reef Educational Foundation to honor their founder.

More info: Ocean Atlas | underwatersculpture.com | Facebook | breef.org (h/t: colossal)

In an interview with Bored Panda, deCaires-Taylor told us how he got started with underwater sculpture; “I felt my sculptural work needed more purpose and was inspired by the earthworks movement to take my work outside of the gallery space. Being a diver and having witnessed the steady decline of our reefs systems, creating artificial reefs seemed the natural step.

The materials I use are expected to last for hundreds of years. (they use a similar type of cement that was used to make Roman Bridges which are still in existence today). Reefs take hundreds of years to forms to its important that the materials I use are sustainable.

Some of smaller pieces I make become colonised and changed very rapidly, some times within months. It is one of the reasons I tend to use the figurative form and not abstract shapes, as no matter how much change occurs we can still see an element of ourselves. It is also why I scaled up the “Ocean Atlas” piece. Even with substantial growth the form will still be very apparent.

On some of the smaller sculptures I am able to dictate the colonisation and have included Gorgonian fan corals to symbolise wings and stag-horn coral to alter the form. I also texture certain areas to allow coral polyps to adhere better and hollow out living spaces for crustaceans.”

“In the past I have used fire coral to colour and texture the pieces. All corals are sourced/ rescued from damage by human activity or storms, none are removed from a natural setting.

Currently, I am working on a project to make an underwater botanical garden in the Canary Islands. It will incorporate, over 700 figures, plants and architectural features. This should keep me busy for a couple years. The planet’s Oceans are so vast, I doubt I will run out of any space soon.