The word Atlantis conjures up images of an ancient city submerged in waters due either to the scientific explanation of natural catastrophe or the mythical explanation of angering the gods. Great walls of marble or gold are said to still be at the bottom of the ocean, springing up like a great hand with the might of technology a bygone era must have possessed. Some even say this technology is in some respects still better than some of our best thanks to alien intervention. And when a mysterious city, covered in life from the sea, was discovered on the bottom of the ocean many who had been searching for years in vain were excited to say the least.
Those visiting the site in the strait running between Java and Bali would first spot the antediluvian temple gates, and upon passing them come across statues and idols bearing the likeness of the ancient Hindu goddess Shiva. Close inspection would reveal that it indeed did appear that these statues had been around for quite some time. But the unfortunate reality is that the statues have not been beneath the ocean for thousands of years, and the city is not an ancient Asian Atlantis. The revelation would sink the hearts of adventurers everywhere as they discovered that the Indonesian Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s announcement that they would be investigating a potential incredible find was followed by another disappointing bit of news. The entire find was nothing more than a theme park submerged over 100 feet in the water.
Yes, a theme park. Paul Turley, a diver of many years set up the idols and the gateway. The intended result was not massive media attention, but rather to simply entertain himself and the customers to his underwater adventure and diving school in Pemuteran, in Northwestern Bali and stress the importance of underwater conservation. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Mr. Turley shared his reaction to the discovery that his creation had caused a tidal wave of controversy as being “a good laugh.” He went on to suggest that his publicity may not have been good enough to get the word out about his recreation. After the attention Mr. Turly has gotten since this incident, there’s likely little problem with publicity now.
Additionally, Mr. Turley adds that contrary to many media reports, the Garden theme park was not created simply for the tourists. He and Chris Brown were working together on an idea for an underwater temple garden and approached the Bali Rehabilitation Fund. Together they were able to secure funding to create the project. The labor of love was so perfect, however, that photographs taken of the garden were enough to create a storm of interest. Turley is using the attention he is receiving from the incident not to promote himself or his business, but rather raise awareness of oceanic environmental concerns. Perhaps therefore in the search for the lost city of Atlantis, and others like it, we have discovered something no less incredible in our relationship to the world around us.