Take the plunge into Mexico's underwater museum

It's not just flurries of brightly coloured fish that you'll spot whilst swimming the warm, turquoise waters off the coast of Cancun.

Just a short kick of the flippers away from Mexico's famous diving spot, Manchones Reef, you'll find a collection of over 400 underwater statues that comprise one of the world's most unusual museums, the Cancun Underwater Museum.

Despite being an artistic project, the park has conservation at is core. It is an attempt to ease some of the swimming traffic away from the reefs suffering under the strain of tourism. 

The permanent collection of life-size sculptures features a range of scenes, from everyday life above water to iconic events such as the Last Supper. Other more artistic scenes include the Phoenix – the museum's first kinetic structure of a woman with purple coral wings.

You don't need to be a deep sea diving expert to enjoy the museum. There are two galleries – one deep and one shallow – and the latter exclusively welcomes snorkelers. If you don't fancy taking the plunge, you can take a ride in a glass bottomed boat and catch all the action from the surface.

The waters off the coast of Cancun are some of the best in the world. Jason Decaires Taylor, the artist behind the project, designed the sculptures from ph neutral clay in order to stimulate the growth of coral reef and marine life.

In 2009 the Cancun Underwater Museum was formed near to the popular coastal tourist destination / © Jason de Caires Taylor 

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Both scuba divers and snorkelers are welcome at the museum which features galleries at two depths, for both divers and snorkelers / © Jason de Caires Taylor 

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Each of the sculptures is made from specialized materials used to promote coral life / © Jason de Caires Taylor 

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The museum's first kinetic sculpture, The Phoenix, features purple wings / © Jason de Caires Taylor

The mysterious history of Plato's Atlantis is evoked with this underwater community / © Jason de Caires Taylor 

Jason de Caires Taylor created a similar, smaller project in Grenada waters in 2006 / © Jason de Caires Taylor 

Some structures are symbolic - this piano reportedly represents the interactions between marine life and objects on the seabed / © Jason de Caires Taylor 

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Solemn scenes of solitude feature highly in the artist's work / © Jason de Caires Taylor 

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Scenes from everyday life above the surface feature in the museum / © Jason de Caires Taylor 

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The museum has added 60 new sculptures to its collection this summer / © Jason de Caires Taylor 

Often the sculptures are based on real life events and local members of the community / © Jason de Caires Taylor 

The project's creator Jason de Caires Taylor learnt his technqiues in the UK. He combined his artistic flair with his love of the sea to create this and other similar projects / © Jason de Caires Taylor