The Art Of Life Within Miami’s Waterways

Mar 18, 2013

Part of the Canoe Project’s mission is to create a conversation, and ultimately some new understanding, of the nature of Miami-Dade’s vast network of waterways.

Contributing to this conversation today is Colin Foord, one of the brilliant marine biologists/artists behind Coral Morphologic, which is described as a “coral aquaculture laboratory and multi-media aquarium studio” here in Miami.

As we have mentioned before, part of Terence Cantarella’s journey through Miami’s canals and waterways was Biscayne Bay and the Miami River– an area Foord says is teeming with life despite the intrusion of modern civilization.

Foord says that “the most interesting thing” about coral reefs in Miami is the “number of different species of coral that have been able to settle” in Miami’s waterways.

“Most of Biscayne has trash and an artificial hard bottom,” Foord explains, “but that has allowed coral to settle out on top of the [trash.] There is a lot of coral even growing at the mouth of the Miami River [and] along the bay’s seawalls.”

“A lot of people assume that the bay is not a healthy ecosystem,” he continues, “but it is surprisingly healthy.”

Because there are a lot of man-made elements to the waterways in Miami– although they are mostly historic– coral has been able grow in a new type of habitat.

“There is a pretty unique and special sort of habitat that we have here,” Foord says. “Coral is actually taking advantage of man’s intrusion. There is even evidence of coral growing on a bicycle frame.”

Foord says that corals and life has found a way to continue even in one of the city’s oldest and dirtiest canals: Seybold Canal. According to Foord, Coral Morphologic has a laboratory right on the canal system in Seybold Canal. He says there is an “interesting community of life” there that includes barracudas and mullet.

He says there is an “interesting relationship” between the coral and its surrounding environment  in the waterways of Miami.

Coral Morphologic, which includes Foord and his partner Jared McKay, is currently working on series of multimedia projects throughout the city called the “Aqua Cultural Transformation.” Some of the projects include large video walls in the Southeast Financial Building and video installations in Miami International Airport.

The mission of the project, which is currently funded by a Knight Arts Challenge grant they won, is to create a sort of public campaign highlighting that cities are much like coral reefs– and vice versa, Foord explains that Miami is “imbued with the spirit of the coral reef itself.”

“We are suggesting that the coral reefs have something to offer us,” Foord says.