Diorama highlighting importance of coral reefs
THE Institute of Jamaica expanded its offerings last Monday by opening a Coral Reef diorama, which is a three dimensional model of a living coral reef with attendant stereophonic narration.
Former executive director of the Institute of Jamaica, Dr Elaine Foster, who spoke at the opening, pointed out that the reef formed part of the science and environment of Jamaica, adding that it was important for it to be exposed to the public.
“Most children and people in Jamaica can’t swim. They have never been able to go on the reef to snorkel and scuba dive, and so this is a way of bringing it to them, to adults, to children, for them to get better understanding of what is on the reef, that they may be able to understand the importance of the reef to the community,” she stressed.
Guest speaker, professor emeritus at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, Ivan Goodbody, praised the Institute for adding the diorama to its exhibits and recalled the institute’s long tradition of informing the public of the importance of marine biology.
“Over the years, Jamaica has played a pivotal role in global understanding of coral and coral reefs,” he added.
He mentioned the first director of the former Science Division, JE Duerden, who during the 1920s published several important papers on coral structures. According to the UWI professor, this tradition of research continued into the mid-twentieth century with professor Thomas Goreau, who undertook fundamental studies on coral physiology and the mechanisms “whereby the tiny flower-like polyps are able to secrete massive skeletons of calcium carbonate.”
Professor Goodbody noted that, “the opening of this diorama is the Natural History Division’s attempt to display some of the secrets of the coral reef for the edification of those who lack the resources and the spirit of adventure to go and explore for themselves. It’s the culmination of a dream of the Division.”
Mentioning that the Institute’s collection was “woefully” unknown, even by university students as “one of Kingston’s major attractions”, the UWI professor suggested that the proposal to relocate the museum to Papine be revisited.
He also proposed that mobile units, similar to those used by the Jamaica Library Service, be utilised to take the information islandwide.
The model was built over a six-month period by artist Jerry Craig who used real coral and fish to form portions of the diorama. Craig said he was motivated by his own love of the sea from childhood and wanted to, “try to give to the children of Jamaica something that will inspire them to nurture our beautiful environment”.
Rohan Wilks, a sixth form student at Kingston College described the exhibit as “very colourful”.
“Because of the colours it is very lifelike, so you get a feeling like you are under the water looking at the coral. Most of the things I see here I did not know they existed in the first place, so I was very moved by what I saw in terms of the diversity and everything,” he said.