You’re on a boat off the coast of Cancún, Mexico. You’re getting ready for a reef dive. You check your gear. Then you dive into the cool water.

You swim down. You see something near the seabed. You swim closer and see ... a face! It is part of a statue. What is it doing here? It’s part of an underwater museum. It’s also part of an artificial reef. It was made to help protect natural reefs. Many have been damaged by divers.

Bigeyes like these live near coral reefs.

This natural reef is full of life.

Reefs in Trouble

This reef was damaged by people blast fishing with dynamite.

Coral reefs are the largest living structures on Earth. Reefs play a big role in keeping our oceans healthy. They give food, shelter, and protection. Yet, reefs are in trouble!

Human activity can be hard on our oceans and reefs. Careless tourists and pollution can hurt reefs. Climate change affects them, too.

For example, thousands of divers visit the natural reefs in Cancún every year. Many are beginners. Some accidentally cause damage during their dives.

MUSA is an underwater art museum. It was created to draw people away from natural reefs and toward artificial ones. Many people now visit MUSA.

A diver swims above an underwater statue.