St. Petersburg, Florida's premier crafts gallery, Florida Craftsman, is currently hosting a fiber coral reef, a coral reef that is completely crocheted!
With the assistance of local marine scientists — there are more than 1,500 in St. Petersburg — 267 artists from England, Norway, Canada, Mexico, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio and all around Florida have contributed to a crocheted coral reef.
The project is in conjunction with a similar coral reef exhibit that's been traveling around the country since 2007.
I noticed that crocheting especially lends itself to brain coral patterns.
Quoting from the gallery legend, "Corals are made up of colonies of tiny animals known as coral polyps. these coral polyps can create a variety of structures, from a solitary disc the size of a silver dollar, to an intricate and elaborate tree-like structure, to a massive boulder the size of several Volkswagens! The collective growth of these structures over thousands of years make up what is known as a coral reef."
"Coral reefs are known as the 'tropical rain forests of the sea' because of their complex, delicate and highly diverse ecosystems. The sophisticated structure of a coral reef provides homes to thousands, if not millions of organisms that all depend upon one another to sustain their lives."
The gallery legends also stress the importance of coral reefs to mankind, and warn that we are in danger of losing 90% of our coral reefs within the next 50 years!
Part of the exhibit was even dedicated to illustrating the results of oil spills.
When the coral reef is stressed — through heightened water temperatures for example — the algae that provides the coral's pigment is expelled and the coral is "bleached." Though not dead, in order to survive the reef will need conditions to come back to normal and the (zooxanthellae) algae to return.
There is a quality of humor and kitsch in the exhibit that is more than counterbalanced by its scope and size. Regardless, it's an awesome project, and the best part of visiting the crocheted coral reef is to see the complete delight of all the viewers, from adults to toddlers.