Like surgeons of the sand, artists gather from all over the world to compete in the annual World Championship of Sand Sculpting contest. Many of these artists have trained in other fields such as architecture, engineering and landscape design. A few are actually real-life surgeons.
In order to create such massive sand sculptures, the artists must be in excellent physical shape. Each must take on the back-breaking challenge of shoveling, packing and pounding tons of sand on a tight deadline. And the sand doesn't come from the beach, it tends to fall apart more easily after being worn down by waves. Instead, the participants use special sand purchased with the event in mind.
Even though they are fierce competitors, "there's real camaraderie between them," said organizer Doc Reiss. "They'll stop what they're doing and help each other."
Here are some of the most magnificently surreal sand sculptures from the latest contest, which took place last year in Federal Way, Washington.
"Distance Gives Perspective" by Martijn Rijerse of the Netherlands and Hanneke Supply of Belgium.
Untitled by Benjamin Probanza of Mexico
"Open Mind" by Katie Korning, Jeff Strong and Kirk Rademaker of Team USA
Untitled by Joo Heng Tan of Singapore
"Magnetic Feels" by Fergus Mulvaney of Ireland
"Krazy" by Marc Lepire of Quebec
"Walking Through" by Helena Bangert of Amsterdam
"To be Revealed" by Damon Farmer of Kentucky
"Noh Trifater" by Sue McGrew of Tacoma, Washington
"Facing the Negative" by Wilfred Stiger of the Netherlands
"It Was Just a Bad Dream" by Uldis Zarins of Latvia
"Whirlwind" by Thomas Koet of Florida
World Championship Sand Sculpting website