Photos: Palm Beach County’s Artificial Reefs (Palm Beach Post)

Palm Beach County has a robust artificial reef program with more than 100 sites, managed by the Environmental Resources Management department. These artificial reefs create additional areas for fishing, diving, and snorkeling, and protect natural reefs from overuse. They are most often made out of limestone, concrete, and occasionally decommissioned ships that become beautiful marine habitats for algae, corals, and other marine life. (Palm Beach Post)

1000 Mermaids Project Adds to Palm Beach County's Cache of Artificial Reefs with Deployment of 18 Sculptures (Press Release)

The 1000 Mermaids Artificial Reef Project is a public eco-art installation created in partnership with Reef Cells that serves as an underwater eco-friendly destination for eco-tourism and coral growth.

Fort Lauderdale, FL, September 04, 2019 --( The 1000 Mermaids Artificial Reef Project is proud to have deployed the first 18 of their artistically crafted artificial reef modules into the ocean in Palm Beach County, two and a half years after the project was originally conceived. The 1000 Mermaids Project & Gallery of 1000 Mermaids is a monumental Public Eco-Art project in the form of an artificial reef installation that also serves as an underwater eco-friendly destination for coral restoration, eco-tourism & research. These artificial Reef Sculptures, outfitted with the newly developed patented "Coral Lok" system were built by Boynton Beach-based artist and Reef Cells founder Chris O'Hare and designed in collaboration with the artist duo behind the 1000 Mermaids Project - Ernest Vasquez and Sierra Rasberry.

Reef Cells are a new and unique solution to bio-marine enhancement, that provides many interconnected cavities and internal surfaces exposed to sunlight and water current in addition to being outfitted with "Coral Lok" Coral Frag Plugs - a coral fastener that can immediately attach a living coral to an artificial coral reef with a simple twist. Coral Lok's allow for more coral fragments - one of the most encouraging developments in the race to save the worlds coral reefs, to be deployed back into the ocean faster and easier with safer materials than ever before. This revolutionary reef design with embedded coral fastener receiver plugs for the Coral Lok's to be applied to is the first of its kind to be deployed in the world and are placed a mile southeast of the Lake Worth Inlet, in the area of artificial reefs created from the former Riviera Beach Marina and the old Flagler Bridge.

"The donation of 18 modules by Reef Cells for the 1000 Mermaids Artificial Reef Project to Palm Beach County is beneficial to the nearshore reef ecosystem, great for the dive community and is the start of a great partnership with the County,"said Jena McNeal, artificial reef coordinator with the Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management Department. "These artificial reef modules have been well thought out and constructed to entice reef fish and benthic organisms to utilize them while at the same time being beautiful pieces of art that divers are going to want to come and see and be photographed with. The County looks forward to continue working with this group over the next few years."

The 1000 Mermaids Artificial Reef Project aims to bring awareness to the growing problems affecting our natural reefs by taking the first step for helping the environment by continually educating the general public on issues they may not be aware of on the surface but are happening underneath the water through various initiatives. Partnering with Reef Cells who has successfully deployed hundreds of artificial reefs in South Florida is a tremendous step for this revolutionary project, fusing art with marine biology as Reef Cells develops artificial reef sculptures that actually look and function like real natural reefs through various designs.

Reef Cells are built with eco-friendly materials including limestone concrete & calcium carbonate that encourage corals and other sea creatures to attach themselves to the reef with reef shapes that are strategically designed to provide a home to thousands of fish and invertebrate. Reef Cells are a proven solution for building new reef communities while providing destinations for divers to experience the thrill of exploring these unique underwater sculpture gardens.

"It has been a beautiful dream in the making to help bring this revolutionary project to life as a solution to help save our vital reef systems, it will be an incredible accomplishment when these artificial reefs start enhancing our reef systems and. We're extremely excited to be providing opportunities for our local communities including citizen science opportunities enabling anyone from a middle school student to a veteran to help us out-plant coral fragments while diving the reef," says Evan Snow, Project Manager & Executive Director of the 1000 Mermaids Project.

In addition, Reef Cells is continually working on developing custom artificial reef solutions for public/private businesses and government entities in areas affected by Hurricanes from the Bahamas to Long Island. Reef Cells has been researching & developing the benefits that coral reef structures bring to shorelines by providing a buffer against waves, storms, and floods, and utilizing this information in their revolutionary designs - helping to contribute against future loss of life, property damage, and erosion through the use of these immense 3,500lbs structures. According to NOAA, when reefs are damaged or destroyed, the absence of this natural barrier can increase the damage to coastal communities from normal wave action and violent storms. These solutions are being researched and developed in South Florida, and able to be shipped via shipping container to any effected region and deployed on site with oversight and guidance from the Reef Cells team.

It is estimated that coral reefs provide $375 billion per year around the world in goods and services with NOAA suggesting that in South Florida alone our reefs have an asset value of $8.5 billion generating $4.4 billion in local sales & $2 billion in local income supporting over 70,000 jobs. With current coral disease & bleaching events disrupting our Florida Reef Tract and destroying up to 50% of our natural reefs, Reef Cells developments come at an invaluable time as a promising innovation to saving our reefs at a nominal cost compared to the real world value of our coral reef eco-systems.

Mermaids have long been a symbol of humans’ connection to the Ocean, and this artificial reef project is being created by body casting and 3D scanning real people in the form of mermaids onto artistically crafted artificial reef modules that will allow their likeness and legacy to live forever on the sea floor. The 1000 Mermaids Artificial Reef Project is a pending 501 (c)3 Florida Not For Profit Corporation, and the Gallery of 1000 Mermaids initiative - an underwater eco-art gallery planned for Fort Lauderdale is seeking funding to help build this new coral restoration & ecotourism attraction that will also double as a buffer against waves, storms, and floods. Donations can be made on their website at or questions can be emailed to them at to arrange for your own casting and module.

About the 1000 Mermaids
The 1000 Mermaids Artificial Reef Project & Gallery of 1000 Mermaids is a monumental public EcoArt project in the form of an artificial reef installation that will also serve as an underwater eco-friendly destination for coral restoration, tourism & research. Its mission is to enhance marine habitats and expand fishery populations while providing enhanced creative, economic and educational opportunities for the benefit, education and enjoyment of residents, students and visitors alike. For more information, the public can visit, “Like” us on Facebook at, follow us on Instagram @1000mermaids or call (954) 361-4998.

Contact Information

1000 Mermaids Project
Evan Snow

Divers can find mermaids at this new artificial reef near Palm Beach (Palm Beach Post)

By Hannah Morse
Posted Aug 22, 2019 at 12:01 AM

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Adding to its cache of artificial reefs, Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management on Wednesday morning will deploy 100 tons of concrete donated by GL Homes and 18 sculptures created and donated by Boynton Beach-based artist Chris O’Hare.

Mermaids will lurk beneath the waters near Palm Beach. Well, sort of.

Adding to its cache of artificial reefs, Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management on Wednesday morning deployed 100 tons of concrete donated by GL Homes and 18 sculptures created and donated by Boynton Beach-based artist Chris O’Hare through a project called 1000 Mermaids.

″[This is] the first time we have this many in one group together,” said Jena McNeal, artificial reef coordinator with the county department.

The sculptures and concrete will be placed about a mile southeast of the Lake Worth Inlet, in area of artificial reefs created from the former Riviera Beach Marina and the old Flagler Bridge. McNeal said this site is good for divers with any level of experience because the depth reaches just 45 feet.

Eight feet feet high and weighing two tons each, the sculptures depict mermaids and abstract coral reefs.

Some are sprayed with calcium carbonate, giving the sculptures a stark white hue, which will act as a good base for corals and other marinelife to grow, McNeal said.

Although sea turtles, groupers and other animals will be a major draw for divers, this artificial reef site stands apart from others. Some of the sculptures will feature poetry and one serves as a selfie station where divers can pose with a mermaid tail.

This isn’t the first time O’Hare has produced an artificial reef. After he learned about the death of Andrew “Red” Harris, O’Hare designed submersible artwork, what he calls now a “reef cell.”

Harris died in a 2014 snorkeling accident near DuBois Park in Jupiter.

>>MORE: Artificial reef slated for Jupiter as a memorial to Andrew “Red” Harris

O’Hare’s reef cells are designed to “maximize the productive capacity of the artificial reef by providing many interconnected cavities and internal surfaces exposed to sunlight and water current,” according to his website. Before becoming an architectural artist, O’Hare was a landscape architect.

The concept for 1000 Mermaids came about a little more than two years ago, when Fort Lauderdale-based artists of Miami Body Cast, Sierra Rasberry and Ernest Vasquez, were introduced to O’Hare.

Combining their strengths, the team developed mermaid artificial reefs, the first of which were deployed Wednesday.

As long as there are resources and funding, the group won’t stop at 1,000.

“You can never drop enough [reefs] out there,” said Evan Snow, project manager for 1000 Mermaids.

Vessel registration fees were used to foot the $13,000 bill of deploying these structures.


Follow Our Journey Along On The News/Media!

THANK YOU To Rudabeh Shahbazi & CBS Miami For Highlighting Our #1000MermaidsProject On Todays's Focus on South Florida Segment! We Are Forever Grateful For The Support From Our Community & Invaluable Partners Including Our Reef Builder Chris O'hare of REEF CELLS, Megan & The Pier Sixty-Six, Hotel & Marina, Choose954 Of The UniteUs Group, The Urban Farming Institute, The Elbo Room Ft.

We're beyond grateful and humbled for the consideration of PCTV Students to select & cover our #1000mermaids #ArtificialReef project! We are very proud of the hard work by all of the #Pinecrest students that went into this and want to wish a big congratulations for getting onto PBS's Student Reporting Labs which will air on WPBT2 South Florida PBS & WXEL - South Florida PBS!

We are eternally grateful for the support of Patxi Pastor & The Celebration of the Sea Foundation for including us in their Earth Day Celebration - April 22 @ The Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa.

Miami Herald / Featured Article!

Miami Herald / Featured Article!

As seen on the Miami Herald On-line -

Ernest Vasquez and Sierra Rasberry are two local artists who want to make mythical  mermaids a reality.

The couple created the 1000 Mermaids Project this year with a goal of creating an underwater sculpture garden using cement and limestone body molds transformed into beautiful mermaids.

Vasquez and Rasberry are a perfect mermaid-making team. Vasquez studied ceramics and sculpture at Arizona State University and Rasberry has been drawing, sketching and creating artwork since she was a kid.

“I’m more technical and detail oriented and he thinks more abstract and big picture,” Rasberry said of their collaboration.

Two years ago they started Miami Body Cast, working with private clients to create commissioned body sculptures for homes and yachts. When one of their initial clients requested art for his yacht, Vasquez and Rasberry thought that instead of creating a simple nude sculpture, they would create a mermaid —a nod the nautical feel of the vessel. Long story short: the client got divorced, lost his prized yacht and then was obviously uninterested in the masterpiece Vasquez and Rasberry had made.

With an unwanted mermaid sculpture in their studio, the couple started brainstorming. The more research they did on coral bleaching and destruction, the more they knew their next project had to support ocean conservation.  And that’s when the 1000 Mermaids Project was born.

Vasquez and Rasberry hope to raise enough money by next spring to complete then sink their first mermaid sculpture garden accompanied by an artificial reef. The goal is to turn it into an underwater public art installation and snorkeling/scuba tourists attraction that helps existing natural reefs recover.

The duo has bodycasted 104.3 the Shark’s Toast and Ashley O live on air.  And they will be at Riptide Music Festival where they will be doing a live mermaid body cast  demonstration. They already have a wait list for mermaid wannabes.

So far, the duo has hired a group of certified divers to video general observations of marine life and to make sure there are no natural reefs around their anticipated drop site between the W Fort Lauderdale and the Lauderdale by the Sea pier. The footage will be presented to Broward County’s Environmental Planning and Community Resilience Division. Then the project has to be presented to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to assure it is safe for sealife.

“We want to leave a legacy as a couple,” Rasberry says. “It’s easy to look past what’s inside the ocean and only see the horizon. We want to change that by creating more awareness and hopefully trigger inspiration for future generations.”

By Christie Galeano-DeMott For The Miami Herald &

MAD Studios VR Reef Tour

Holy smokes people!

Need to re-brand? Got a crazy idea or invention? Trying to throw the coolest party in South Florida? These guys can help… Visit

Need to re-brand? Got a crazy idea or invention? Trying to throw the coolest party in South Florida? These guys can help… Visit

MAD Studios are pretty amazing people. We can’t say enough great things about them!

They have been HARD at work cooking up something GREAT for the 2018 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show this year and I wanted to share the sneak peak video…

So we had opportunity to bring some of our mermaid models into MAD studios to get 3-D Scanned. Their designers were then able to start modeling the girls’ bodies into virtual mermaids along with the first generation of artificial reef modules. Please note that this video was a preliminary test and will not fully represent what we envision the artificial reef to look like. The large “W” was an example of what a corporate sponsor may like to create. The coolest part of this video is if you’re watching this on your smart-phone, you can look around the entire environment (since it’s a VR video).

We are planning on having a more immersive and interactive experience to showcase MAD’s amazing skills. Please keep an eye out for our team if you’re attending the boat show this year. We will be demoing the VR experience all over the FLIBS show.

1000 Mermaids Live Body Casting Pop-Up at Riptide Music Fest

Miami Body Cast, the artist/creative duo couple behind the 1000 Mermaids Project is proud to join The Celebration of the Sea Foundation as part of their presence at Riptide Music Festival Powered by Ford.

You can't miss us when you walk in! We'll be body casting away and taking donations to help us work towards our goal of creating an artificial reef to drop off the coast of Ft Lauderdale Beach! We'll have some very special casts on site thanks to our friends Toast & Ashley O from 104.3 The Shark! Looking forward to seeing you there!


A Night of Swimwear + Art // Art of Swim @ the W featuring Miami Body Cast

Miami Body Cast will be part of a night that celebrates the intersection between art and fashion amidst the backdrop of one of Fort Lauderdale’s most iconic hotels, the W, on Saturday November 18th, 2017. A captivating evening previewing designer collections of local & international swimwear inspired by art while live body casting takes place at the same time on the Wet Deck of the W.  Witness the Art of Swim! 

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#1000MERMAIDS Debuts at the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show 2017

Thank you Bahia Mar and 104.3 The Shark for hosting the 1000 Mermaids Project at the Riptide Music Festival launch party and closing show during the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show 2017! 

We had the chance to cast our 6 beautiful models, all wearing Montce Swim, including one guest of the after party, and also raffled off a free body cast session to a lucky attendee. Bahia Mar has done a stellar job renovating their pool deck and it provided as a great platform for us to spread awareness about our project to the audience while they ate, drank, and watched the show!