Ocean Siren

Location (see map): Townsville, Australia, Pacific Ocean
Depth: Above water
Installation Date: 2019

The Ocean Siren is a 4m-high illuminated sculpture modelled on Takoda Johnson, a young indigenous girl from the Wulgurukaba tribe. She is holding a traditional indigenous communication device, a Bayliss shell and it is acting as a siren or warning signal that warm seas could be a risk to the Great Barrier Reef. She is looking out at Magnetic Island, the traditional home of her great grandfather, and to the Great Barrier Reef beyond. Her inherent youth is a strong symbol of how she will help shape its future.

At night, the sculpture’s changing surface colour visually represents daily average water temperature data relayed from the weather station installed at Davies Reef on the Great Barrier Reef. Changing colour as daily variations in water temperature warm and cool the reef, Ocean Siren is a visual representation of the current conditions out on the reef and can potentially warn of risks to coral reefs from warming seas. The sculpture celebrates the scientific and technological expertise of Townsville and the region. The live data feed indicating the water temperature around the Reef  is provided by a 4G live internet connection to the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS).

The structure of the Ocean Siren is fabricated in two halves, one facing the ocean in solid welded plate 316 stainless steel, the other facing the shore in a highly durable translucent acrylic. The sculpture remains out of the water at all times and is elevated six metres off the seabed. The structure houses a matrix of 202 multi-coloured LED lights that are illuminated each day at sunset and gradually change  colour from the centre of the figure to its extremities similar in display to a heat sensing camera image. It can be viewed at various points along the coastline and up close from the adjacent public pier, The Strand Jetty. Ocean Siren aims to bring reef science directly into an urban environment in a live, visual, and emotive way, distilling this complex issue into a clear and stark message.

Commissioned by: MOUA, Museum of Underwater Art, Townsville, Australia
Materials: 316 Stainless steel, acrylic