Andrea’s Reef Featuring Mermaid Sculpture Modeled After Local Breast Cancer Survivor To Be New Dive Site Off Singer Island
A local three-time breast cancer survivor will be honored under the sea as the face of a life-size mermaid sculpture that will soon become the area's newest artificial reef.
Andrea Torrente, a Palm Beach County resident, was selected for the unique honor by Susan G. Komen South Florida, which helped cover the costs of treatment upon her second diagnosis.
The mermaid sculpture and other components of Andrea's Reef, including Roman columns, a treasure chest, sea turtles and stingrays, will be sunk off the shores of Ocean Reef Park on Singer Island Thursday, Aug. 11, at 9 a.m.
Sculpture artist Thomas McDonald was inspired to model his mermaid after a local who has coped with breast cancer after starting work on his commissioned sculpture during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month last October.
"I work at a women's health clinic in Roanoke, Virginia," he said in a release. "I'm very familiar with breast cancer; I've had people with breast cancer in my family. So I just thought of the idea, and thought, let's go ahead and find someone with breast cancer and make her the face of the mermaid."
For Torrente, getting the news that she would be the inspiration for the piece was nothing short of "amazing," she said.
"It lifts your spirits and is inspiring to others with cancer and battling illness," she explained in a statement. "The reef will bring new life and hope to other survivors while improving our marine environment."
McDonald sculpted the mold, and then high school students at Riviera Beach Maritime Academy designed and built the massive concrete structure. All together, the six-piece reef weighs in at 60,000 pounds and measures 20 feet by 15 feet.
George Carter, president of the Maritime Academy, said the project provided a great learning experience for his students.
"They not only had a chance to create and engineer something of great importance to the marine ecosystem and environment, but Andrea's Reef is even more of an honor to them because it raises awareness for breast cancer as a cause," he said in a statement.
Boat owners can take their vessels out to watch the deployment of Andrea's Reef on Thursday. The sculpture will be sunk one mile north of Lake Worth Inlet and three-fourths of a mile east at sea off Ocean Reef Park.
(All photos courtesy Riviera Beach Maritime Academy)