Standing 13-feet tall, cast in bronze and clad in Roman armor, the “Guardian of the Reef” cuts an imposing figure.
The statue of the mythological creature – half ancient warrior, half sea horse – is set to become the latest attraction on the Cayman Islands’ diving scene.
The sculpture will be sunk on a sandy flat in 65-feet of water where it will stand sentry over the reef off DiveTech’s Lighthouse Point site in West Bay.
It will also be a literal guardian of the reef, with visitors contributing a dollar for every dive at the site going toward an ocean conservation program for schoolchildren.
The statue was sculpted by Canadian artist Simon Morris, the creator of the famous mermaid at the Sunset House dive site.
Pending approval and permits, it will be sunk in mid-January.
The top half of the sculpture is a guardsman wearing Greco-Roman armor and carrying a circular shield, as well as a staff and sphere.
His helmet is a stylized sea horse head, and a dorsal fin protrudes from the back of his breastplate. At the waist, the creature morphs into a sea horse with a tail coiled around a bronze ring mounted on a 4-foot-high bronze column. The Guardian will be perched on a 4-feet concrete pedestal that will raise him to 17 feet and help the sculpture become part of the reef.
Nancy Easterbrook of DiveTech said: “The Guardian looks like a salty old dog and he’ll be out there protecting the reef. He’s very symbolic – a tangible, physical creature, half man, half fish. I think he’s a cool-looking dude with his sea-horse tail.”
The statue was commissioned to coincide with the dive shop’s 20th anniversary. Owners Jay and Nancy Easterbrook hope to raise $20,000 through donations from divers during the course of the year.
“I think its appropriate and it has meaning,” said Ms Easterbrook of the conservation initiative and the Guardian. “After this longevity, it gives DiveTech a chance to give back to community.”
The bronze sculpture is being cast in an American foundry and its journey to the Caribbean will begin at the end of October. The sculpture will make an interim stop in Orlando where he will be unveiled at the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association Show. The Guardian will arrive in Grand Cayman in November, and the Easterbrooks plan to have him on display at DiveTech’s facility at Lighthouse Point for guests and residents before its scheduled sinking in January.