Start-up brand Reefy has joined hands with a Dutch zoo to develop sustainable methods of restoring coral reefs in the wild. Their attempt is to create biodegradable material that coral can grow on instead of steel, plastic, and concrete options used in the past.
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“We have developed the first, stable, artificial reef to boost biodiversity,” Reefy co-founder Leon Haynes told Dutch News.
One of the key features of the artificial coral blocks is their ability to allow fish to build a habitat inside. They have internal tunnels that provide a home for fish and other sea animals. The blocks have already undergone initial testing in wave tanks in Delft to see whether they were stable enough to withstand storms and hurricanes.
“The coral needs a base to grow on. By the time the coral is mature, the materials will have fully degraded,” Haynes said.
Coral reefs are vital for the ocean since they provide shelter for crabs, lobsters, and other sea animals. They are also necessary since they offer a defense against hurricanes and tsunamis.
While talking to Dutch News, Zoo Biologist Max Janse said that the most important part of the project is the sustainability of the material.
“We could only move forward with this project if we had the exact data on the materials and if they underwent toxicity tests. Toxic materials, sewage, and dynamite fishing stress the coral reefs, causing them to reject the algae growing on them and become bleached,” Janse said. “The algae creates sugars which provide 80% of the coral’s food source. Without this food source, the corals will die within two to three weeks.”
Reefy is currently looking for funds to start putting the blocks in the wild next year. Once the blocks are placed in the water, we will have a clear picture of their impact on nature. If the blocks can work well and improve the nature of available reefs, nature stands to gain. A recent report found that 14% of the world’s coral reefs had been lost in less than a decade. With such huge losses, strategies have to be found to regrow the vital reefs.
Lead image via Pexels