Much of what happens in our oceans and seas is often concealed beneath its vast, endearing blue surface. It masks its fragility well. Over the past year, alongside the passionate team at SOS Whitstable and The Bertha Foundation, I’ve embarked on an important journey to create a focal point for one of the most persistent and insidious threats facing the UK’s coastlines and waterways: sewage pollution. 

The sculptures themselves are lifecasts, portraying a small cross section of the local Whitstable community (including members of SOS Whitstable); a cold water swimmer, school child, kite surfer, lifeboat volunteer and local fisherman. Each holds a profound connection to the sea and a shared resolve to combat water pollution.

The simultaneous installation of this new artwork and Southern Water’s release of untreated sewage onto the surrounding coastal area for a staggering 89 hours underscores the pressing urgency of the crisis. Discharges of sewage still occur frequently along this coastline and are often unseen activities that happen during the cover of darkness or through outlets that are concealed by the tides.

Sirens of Sewage serves as an important reminder of this ongoing crisis, urging us to confront the pressing need for systemic change. Whether through the nationalisation of our water industry or stringent regulation, we must demand a future where clean water is not a luxury but a fundamental right for both our communities and marine habitats alike.

We are living through difficult times marked by strikes and protests, with many of our public services and natural resources being driven towards financial or environmental collapse. As these crises unfold, it falls increasingly upon local communities and ordinary citizens to champion their rights and safeguard the ecological balance. Some of those are SOS Whitstable, a group of 10 local activists who have been working tirelessly to hold water companies to account and make the sea safer along the Kent coast. I hope that this artwork serves as a testament to their struggle and ongoing resilience.

This sculpture installation is part of my Siren Series, a global network of artworks that draw attention to marine issues, often hidden from plain sight, such as warming oceans, overfishing and plastic pollution. Originally intended for placement in a tidal area along the adjacent coastline, the project encountered resistance from local authorities and is now situated on private land.

One of the previous Sirens.

The Ocean Siren changes colour according to reef temperatures.

The Ocean Siren is a 4m-high illuminated sculpture modelled on Takoda Johnson, a young indigenous girl from the Wulgurukaba tribe. She is holding a traditional indigenous communication device, a Bayliss shell, and it is acting as a siren or warning signal that warm seas could be a risk to the Great Barrier Reef.  

At night, the sculpture’s changing surface colour visually represents daily average water temperature data that is relayed from the weather station installed at Davies Reef on the Great Barrier Reef. Changing colour as daily variations in water temperature warm and cool the reef, Ocean Siren is a visual representation of the current conditions out on the reef and can potentially warn of risks to coral reefs from warming seas. The sculpture celebrates the scientific and technological expertise of Townsville and the region. The live data feed indicating the water temperature around the Reef is provided by a 4G live internet connection to the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS).

About the Artist:

Jason deCaires Taylor MRSS (b.1974) is an award winning sculptor, environmentalist and professional underwater photographer. For the past 17 years, Taylor has been creating underwater museums and sculpture parks beneath the waves, submerging over 1,200 living artworks throughout the world’s oceans and seas. Themes explored by these artistic installations include, among others, the climate emergency, environmental activism, and the regenerative attributes of nature. The sculptures create a habitat for marine life whilst illustrating humanity’s fragility and its relationship with the marine world. Taylor’s subjects mainly feature members of the local community, focussing on their connections with their own coastal environments. For more information visit:

About SOS Whitstable:

SOS Whitstable is a group of ten local sea swimmers-turned activists who work tirelessly to fight against sewage pollution on the Kent coast and beyond. Founded in 2021, they gained national recognition and press coverage by publishing two petitions generating over 350,000 signatures, hosting three protests that drew thousands, and persistently pressuring the water industry, regulatory bodies, and politicians to reduce unnecessary spills. Their current members are: Amber Ferguson, Ben Peilow, Bryony Carter, Catherine Chapman, Ed Acteson, Elane Heffernan, Rebecca Scipio, Robin Bartlett, Rose Bircham and Sal Burtt-Jones. Join the cause at