IT'S hard enough to mould a good sandcastle from a bucket, but award-winning professional sand sculptor Peter Papamanolis has taken it to the next level.
Mr Papamanolis has carved a life-sized Plesiosaurus, a prehistoric sea creature, from four tonnes of sand into Mooloolaba Beach.
Mr Papamanolis's modern masterpiece measures 2.5 metres long and sits 1.2 metres above the sand, giving spectators a sense of the scale and features of a typical Plesiosaurus. It is accompanied by a sculptured shark and some turtles and has been created to promote the opening of the Jurassic Seas exhibit at SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast.
The artist said he hoped the sculpture would inspire children to ask questions and discover more about prehistoric creatures.
"I want the kids to look at it and say 'wow', and maybe check it out on the internet and want to learn more about these creatures and this time in earth's history," Mr Papamanolis said.
"Hopefully it inspires them to be inquisitive and to realise that not all dinosaurs were absolutely huge."
Describing the Plesiosaurus as a Brontosaurus with flippers, Mr Papamanolis said he had been intrigued by the creature.
"It has flippers like a sea turtle and a head like a sea lion, so you can relate this ancient and extinct creature to marine animals of today," he said.
The foundations of the Plesiosaurus sculpture were laid with two formwork boxes that were later removed. It is expected to remain intact for three to four days before the weather and other elements take their toll.
SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast general manager Quinn Clarke said the awe-inspiring sculpture was the ideal introduction to Jurassic Seas, which will guide visitors through a prehistoric period when dinosaurs roamed the earth.
"The Plesiosaurus lived in our oceans during this time and is just one of the mysterious marine creatures that visitors can learn about when they experience Jurassic Seas," he said.
"We hope that this sand sculpture will trigger people's curiosity about the fascinating sea creatures of the past and present, and inspire them to visit the exhibit."
Jurassic Seas will allow guests to get up close to the intriguing nautilus, dragon-like mudskippers, mesmerising wonderpus and the clever chameleons of the sea, cuttlefish.
Visitors can check out the giant crayfish crawling within the Skull Tank, then head to the nursery at Flipper Rock with its adorable baby epaulette sharks, infant lionfish and leopard shark eggs.
Adding to the prehistoric experience, Jurassic Seas will also bring the ocean's most terrifying dinosaurs back to life with the extraordinary use of cutting-edge digital technology.
The Jurassic Seas exhibit will open on December 8.
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