Helping to re-establish threatened coral reef ecosystems. The Global Coral Reef Alliance scientists work with foundations, governments NGOs and private organisations to rebuild, restore and maintain coral reefs and marine ecosystems. They use a ‘mineral accretion’ process which assists coral reef recovery from damage caused by excessive nutrients, climate change, and physical destruction from boat anchors and diving.
Mineral accretion technology is a method that applies safe, low voltage electrical currents through seawater, causing dissolved minerals to crystallise on structures such as metal grids. These crystals then grow to form a white limestone similar to that which naturally makes up coral reefs and tropical white sand beaches. The electrical voltage required is so low that projects can easily be powered by a wide range of renewable electrical sources, from windmills and photovoltaic solar panels to, most appropriately, tidal current generators. This enables their construction in areas where conventional electricity is unavailable.
This mineral accretion process, called ‘Biorock’ has been successfully applied to grow limestone breakwaters to protect islands and coastal areas from erosion and rising sea levels, as well as to rebuild coral reefs. Coral reefs built using this process are now growing in Maldives, Seychelles, Thailand, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Mexico, Panama and, in one of the most remote and unexplored reef areas of the world, Saya de Malha Banks in the Indian Ocean.
It is a remediation method that speeds up coral growth in damaged areas and restores authentic coral reef habitat and species. The structures become rapidly colonised by a full range of coral reef organisms, including fish, crabs, clams, octopus, lobster and sea urchins – all of which are species typically found in healthy reef environments. Indeed, if the electrical current is maintained, coral reefs can often be restored even in areas where water quality would prevent their recovery by any other method.
APE is delighted to support such a vital bioremediation project.