An ingenious technology installed in 20 countries around the world has enormous potential not only to regenerate ailing coral reefs but improve their resilience as well!
Coral reefs throughout the world are in dire straits, which bodes badly for the world’s marine ecosystems. But a proven technology that has been floating around for two decades can revive even the most bleached and poorly reefs in a matter of years.
First conceived by German architect and marine scientist Wolf Hilbertz, Biorock technology delivered via a metal cage called a “crab” creates a spontaneous accumulation of limestone, which in turn encourages coral growth. A similar idea called Econcrete made in Tel Aviv creates new reef growth.
It only takes a tiny amount of electricity to create life-generating mineral deposits
A tiny amount of electricity derived from solar panels is delivered to the metal crab cages, which then promotes an accumulation of life-sustaining limestone. Hilbertz originally tested this Biorock technology in the southern American state Louisiana in order to develop a self-sustaining building material. Not only was the experiment successful, but the inventor also discovered that oysters and corals colonized the newly formed limestone domes.
Remarkably, Discovery News reports that the electrolysis not only restores beleaguered reefs but actually improves their resistance to environmental factors that caused their demise in the first place, including bleaching that results from warmer and more acidic water.
If all of this sounds just a little bit too good to be true, we’re happy to report that for once it’s not! An Australian diver Rani Morrow-Wuigk learned about Biorock technology and decided to use her own money and support from the Taman Sari resort in Pemuteran Bay off Bali’s north coast to restore reefs that had all but disappeared. Already, after just 11 years, 60 cages spread over two marine hectares have completely regenerated the reef.
Coral doing better than before
“Now we’ve got a better coral garden than we used to have,” said Rani. Even the local fishermen who worried about their job security are seeing the ripple effects of a newly colorful and thriving reef system which is luring tourists back to the bay.
Efforts to improve the state of coral reefs in the Red Sea and the Gulf are commendable but probably too slow to make a difference in the face of fast-moving climate change. In Abu Dhabi, doughnut-sized disks developed by Dr. Mineo Okamoto from the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology (TUMAT) are being installed in the waters of Saadiyat Island and Al Dhabeiyah. They promote larvae growth but only at a rate of 1cm per year.
As development projects continue unabated, these fragile ecosystems in the Middle East will become increasingly degraded. It’s going to take a near miracle, or maybe Biorock technology, to bring them back to life.
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