A gigantic underwater museum filled with 400 sculptures will be created in Mexico’s West Coast National Park in on the Yucatán Peninsula. The artistic director is Jason de Caires Taylor, famous for his underwater sculptures, but other artists will also be involved in the project.

The Subaquatic Sculpture Museum is designed to relieve some of the pressure placed on the regions natural reefs by divers and snorkelers; the national park currently receives almost 300,000 visitors each year and quit a few of these vacationers do not behave as careful around the reefs as they should.

If they [the tourists] swim near the corals, the divers with little experience might kick them with a fin or hit them with the oxygen tank,” says national park director Jaime

González, adding that some tourists even climb coral reefs and walk on top of them, breaking and shattering them.

In 2005, the park administration submerged 110 hollow domes and concrete structures in layers in the Sac Bajo area in a similar effort to divert tourists from the natural reefs, and this project has already become a success story.

At first the people of Isla Mujeres told us that they were never going to bring tourists there, but after a few years it became a must-see attraction,” says González.

The park administration is planning to launch the new underwater museum next month by submerging four sculptures in human form. All 400 sculptures in the museum will be made from pH neutral concrete to allow rapid growth of algae and incrustation of marine invertebrates, such as corals. Eventually, the new habitat will also begin to attract reef fish – just like the Sac Bajo project.

The underwater museum will draw many tourists, allowing us to give a rest to the natural reefs. It’s like a restoration process,” says González.

If everything goes according to plan, some 250 sculptures will have been submerged by April 2010. Each sculpture will be human sized and rest on a four square meter base. Some parts of the museum will be theme based, such as the “Coral Collector” gallery and the “Dream Catcher” section which features bottles filled with messages sent by castaways. There will also be a series of sculptures depicting Maya warriors.