A massive new artificial reef was officially unveiled off the coast of Cozumel this week.

Francine Cousteau, president of the Cousteau Society and widow of undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau, visited the island as its "godmother".

The new underwater attraction weighs more than 10 Boeing 737 jets. It is made of 56,000 tons (50.8 million kilograms) of salvaged concrete taken from the Puerta Maya cruise ship pier destroyed by Hurricane Wilma in 2005.

 
New Cozumel reef
Francine Cousteau in Cozumel.

Funded by the pier's owners, Carnival Cruiselines, it will create a new underwater habitat within the island's world-renowned reef system, part of the largest reef system in the Western Hemisphere.

Cozumel underwater photography
Underwater life in Cozumel.
 

Carnival said that although abundant with sea life, the former marine habitat consisted mainly of vast areas of sand and seaweed.

The new reef creates an undersea environment that can support a wider variety of marine species, including soft and hard corals and sponges, as well as fish and crustaceans.

The reef is off the north-west coast near the airport. It has been named Lol-Ha, meaning "water-flower" in the local Mayan language and inspired by legends that explain how the sea got its blue color.

Related news:

New $50 Million Cruise Pier - October 14, 2008.

Wider Pier, Bigger Ships – July 14, 2008.

Global Reef Rescue Conference In Cozumel – Oct. 24, 2006.

Cozumel One Year On – October 24, 2006.

Better Cruise Ship Piers – January 13, 2006.

Reef Recovering "Like Clockwork" – November 18, 2005.

Reef Clean Up – November 11, 2005.

Where'd She Blow? – November 5, 2005.