A leading property developer in Dubai executed one of the world’s largest coral relocation projects in 2008, and now – five years later – the mammoth $9.8 million undertaking has shown itself to be a remarkable success.
Property developers have taken a lot of heat for ruining Dubai’s coral reefs after a few decades of rapid expansion all along the Arabian/Persian Gulf coast, so in 2008, Nakheel worked with conservationists, ecologists, engineers and others to relocate nearly 24,000 square feet of coral reef about 11 miles.
“This was one of the largest coral relocation projects ever conducted globally, with over 20,000 coral colonies spared from the effects of infrastructure development,” Marine Biologist John Burt told Gulf Today.
It wasn’t easy.
“Our coral move was an engineering first,” said Ali Saeed bin Thalith, Director of Development and Operations at Nakheel Marine Group. “We were in unknown territory when we undertook the exercise, which involved moving more than 1,100 coral-encrusted rocks, each weighing about five tonnes.”
The group had to use non-toxic glue to attach metal rods to each coral-encrusted rock and then hook that up to a sling. Each rock was then hoisted onto a 295 foot barge without leaving the water and transported to its new home – the controversial World Islands’ breakwater.
“The techniques used to transport the corals underwater with minimal handling were a world first and showed the creativity and ingenuity that can arise when engineers and ecologists work together for conservation purposes,” said Burt.
Remarkably, the coral has thrived in its new home. Gulf Today reports that the 20,000 coral colonies moved in the process have expanded by roughly 20 percent, and has even attracted fish species that have never been seen in the region before.
Nakheel’s engineering feat was the subject of a recent Discovery Channel documentary.
Meanwhile sunken art is helping to rejuvenate coral reefs in Qatar. Coral reefs around the globe are deeply vulnerable to changing pH levels and bleaching as a result of higher water temperatures.
Some reefs have shown themselves to be more resilient than others, and Abu Dhabi’s corals are said to be tougher than the rest, but any kind of loss threatens marine ecosystems.
:: Gulf Today
Image of tropical fish, Shutterstock