GCRA: 25 years of cutting-edge coral reef research and restoration

January 22 2016, St. Georges, Grenada.

The Global Coral Reef Alliance was founded 25 years ago as a global voluntary network to do cutting edge research and development on reversing the threats to coral reefs and developing new methods to restore coral reefs, fisheries, mangroves, sea grass, salt marsh, and beaches naturally, working on critical problems that nobody else works on because there is no funding.

26 years ago, as Senior Scientific Affairs Officer for Global Climate Change and Biodiversity issues at the United Nations Centre for Science and Technology for Development, I realized that no group anywhere in the world was focusing on solving fundamental scientific problems related to coral reefs because they were obsessed with doing whatever silly fad of the day that the funding agencies were throwing all their money at.

GCRA invented the method to predict coral bleaching accurately from satellite data 25 years ago and showed then that coral reefs worldwide were the first ecosystem to be seriously damaged by global warming, and that corals could not take any further warming. Governments have deliberately chosen to let coral reefs die for 25 years rather than admit the clear scientific evidence that global warming was already causing severe damage or do anything to reverse it. In the last 25 years we have lost most of the corals, and this year we will lose many more. In the past 25 years GCRA has worked in reefs in most of the small island states of the Caribbean, Pacific, Indian Ocean, and Southeast Asia. They have lost most of their biodiversity, fisheries, shore protection, and tourism resources, and are the first and worst victims of climate change even before their islands are flooded.

GCRA invented the Biorock method for restoring all marine ecosystems and coastal habitats, which is the only method of marine ecosystem restoration that greatly increases settlement, growth, survival, and resistance to environmental stress of all marine organisms, because it directly stimulates the fundamental biophysical mechanism by which all forms of life make their biochemical energy. Biorock technology keeps coral reefs alive when they would die, and restores them, and the beaches behind them, in a few years in places where there is no natural recovery. In the Maldives in 1998 Biorock reefs had 1600% to 5,000% higher coral survival than nearby reefs, and grew back a completely eroded beach in 2-3 years.

GCRA has also done leading research on reversing the effects of pollution on coral reefs, identifying the pathogens causing coral, sponge, and algae diseases, works with indigenous communities to manage and improve their biological resources, and has led global efforts at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change for 25 years to reverse global climate change by increasing soil carbon sinks, among many other activities.

The list of activities in 2015 are listed below. Any year of the last 25 would have shown an equally diverse range of projects all over the globe.

After 25 years of non-stop, unpaid, back-breaking labor, we find that the situation of coral reef degradation, and the ignorance of the causes and solutions, have only gotten worse. Vast sums are spent by the funding agencies on nonsensical propaganda about “resilience” in order to avoid political action or funding to directly reduce threats to reefs or actively restoring them. Without active restoration no marine protected area will be able to protect corals or fisheries as global climate change starts to kick in, but no funding agency supports serious restoration, though all fund creating parks that can’t work in the long run.

GCRA gets dozens of critical requests for help for restoration every month from groups all over the world, but we can’t respond to most because we have no endowment, no operating funds, no budget for travel, and no benefactors. Essentially all our small donations are earmarked for specific projects, and most of those are in-kind donations. Had we realized how disastrous funding would be, it would have been insane to have even started! After 25 years GCRA is as poor as when it started, starting our 25th year with only a couple of hundred dollars in our account to support our world wide activities, which is more than I have in my personal account, this work has driven me to destitution.

But it is too late now, the situation is even more critical than ever as the global warming-caused extinction of coral reef ecosystems accelerates, and 2016 could well be the coup de grace for many reefs, with more to follow in the coming years unless the world chooses to take serious and effective action to reverse global warming.

In Paris governments refused to act in time to avert reef extinction, and so effectively condemned them to death. Ironically the world came very close to effective action: on December 1 the French Government proposed that soil carbon be included in the climate change treaty and governments commit to increasing soil carbon to reverse climate change (a proposal I had originally made in the 1980s), but on December 10 the French Government dropped their own proposal in the rush for a political “agreement” that is incapable of meeting its own goals due to fundamental carbon accounting errors that need to be corrected if it is to be effective.

In 2016 we face a critical emergency to build as many Biorock Coral Arks as possible to maintain species populations in areas that will lose them if they bleach severely this year. Since there is no funding to do so, GCRA will continue to work with all local groups in developing countries wherever they can find local support to grow back their marine ecosystem resources, since the international community has left coral reef ecosystems to die.

2015 GCRA ACTIVITIES

GCRA develops new projects in around 10 countries every year, but since we are constantly busy we never have time to keep the web page up to date, so it may seem we are up to nothing! Here is a list of some major projects done in 2015.

1. Indonesia
Indonesia continued to have most Biorock coral reef restoration projects in the world as Indonesian Biorock groups continued to install many new projects in Bali, Lombok, Java, Sulawesi, Ambon, Flores, and Sumbawa, with more constantly under development. Biorock Indonesia PT was formed as the umbrella group for future Biorock projects along with Yayasan Karang Lestari (Protected Coral Foundation, winner of the 2012 UN Equator Award for Community Based Development and the Special UNDP Award for Ocean and Coastal Management), and local partners. Tom Goreau taught the 10th Indonesian Biorock Coral Reef and Fisheries Restoration Training Workshop during the Bali Buleleng Dive Festival. Large, spectacular new projects were installed in Bali and Sulawesi. A Biorock shore protection reef to grow back an eroded beach was designed and installed in Sulawesi, and a similar project was designed in West Papua to be installed next year. An integrated whole-watershed and coastal zone nutrient, water, and soil management plan was drafted to protect the coral reefs of Pemuteran, Bali, from eutrophication, and collaboration with the Indonesian Biodiversity Research Center of Udayana University was established.

2. Panama
New Biorock coral reef, sea grass, and mangrove restoration projects were installed at the Galeta Marine Laboratory in collaboration with Dr. Stanley Heckadon of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institution. The solar powered Biorock coral reef restoration project at Yandup, Uggupseni, Guna Yala (Autonomous Guna Indian territory) was expanded. This pilot project aims to save Guna islands now being abandoned due to sea level rise. All Panama Caribbean coral reefs underwent severe high temperature coral bleaching in 2015, affecting both Biorock projects. The Galeta Biorock project is located next to a similar unpowered control structure, so comparison of coral mortality and survival on the two structures will allow benefits of Biorock to be determined. We expect Biorock corals will show much higher coral recovery and survival based on results after severe bleaching events in the Maldives, Thailand, and Indonesia. When results are available they will be posted here.

3. Curaçao
The largest Biorock coral restoration project in the Caribbean was installed in Curaçao with Curaçao Divers. The project consists of 7 Biorock reefs linked together on the shelf slope. The corals show excellent growth, and fish populations are building up. The latest reports from Curaçao Divers will be reported here.

4. Saint Barthelemy
The Biorock coral reef restoration project in St. Barthelemy continued to show excellent growth of all four Acropora species (elkhorn, staghorn, and both hybrid varieties), as well as all other coral species, and has created an oasis of coral, fish and plankton in a barren, high wave stress environment. New Biorock coral reef restoration projects to restore deeper coral reefs, and to grow back shallow reefs to cause eroded beach sand to grow back naturally, were planned and approved for installation in 2016.

5. Bahamas
Cutting edge work on the response of sharks to low voltage direct current electrical fields was done in Bimini with Marcella Uchoa and Craig O’Neill. The dramatic results will be reported here when published. The Biorock coral reef and seagrass restoration project in Abaco continues to show excellent coral growth, spectacular seagrass growth, and dense fish populations, and our long term studies of corals killed by algae overgrowth and diseases near golf course nutrient sources continues.

6. Mexico
An environmental assessment for restoration of threatened endemic species in the Sea of Cortez using Biorock mariculture methods, and for development of tidal current energy resources, was done, and approved by the Indigenous Comca’ac (Seri) Indian Ejido of Sonora. Pilot projects should start in early 2016

7. Polynesia
Biorock ecotourism coral restoration projects by Denis Schneider of Espace Bleu have expanded to more hotels in Bora Bora, Raiatea, and Moorea, and research has shown Biorock benefits for giant clams, pearl oysters, and corals. A collaborative proposal for research on effects of Biorock on coral settlement was funded by the French government and will start in early 2016.

8. Spain
Research projects with collaborators at the Plentzia Marine Laboratory of the University of the Basque Country in Spain found electrical fields resulted in greatly increased cell proliferation rates in mussel livers. Biorock minerals grown under different conditions were identified and their chemistry determined. Further research is underway on fundamental biophysical, biochemical, and cellular effects of the Biorock process.

9. United States
Tom Goreau gave talks on climate, soil, water, and temperature interactions at the Conference on Restoring Water Cycles to Reverse Global Warming in Boston, and was active in leading the Soil Carbon Alliance efforts to urge governments to reverse global climate change through increasing soil carbon. The solar-powered Biorock coral reef restoration projects at Lauderdale By The Sea came to the end of their mandated three year monitoring program. The Town terminated all funding for the project and cut off the cables to the solar power buoys the Biorock team had designed and built to remove them. The project was literally cut off from power right during a severe high temperature coral bleaching event, when most needed! The project could easily be powered from a nearby fishing pier, but funding is crucially needed to save it.

10. Cuba
Tom Goreau gave papers on use of wave energy to restore coral reefs and regrow beaches naturally at the Cuban Marine Science Congress, on soil carbon, climate change, and soil fertility restoration at the Cuban Agro-Ecology Conference, and met with coral reef and shore protection colleagues.

11. France
Tom Goreau gave several talks at the Paris UN Framework Convention on Climate Change as a delegate of the Caribbean Community Centre for Climate Change. These talks, in both government delegate areas and the public areas, focused on vulnerability of reefs and coasts to climate change, soil carbon to stabilize CO2 at safe levels, and on restoration of marine ecosystems, fisheries, and coasts.

These materials are summarized in the video links below:

Tom Goreau presentation: Paris COP-21 12/2015 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

Tom Goreau presentation at Paris COP-21 12/2015 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

12. Other countries
New projects were approved for early 2016 in Italy, Papua, Indonesia, Vanuatu, Maldives, St. Barthelemy, and Saint Martin, and possibly more, while many requests for new projects came from a dozen more countries, but did not move forward due to lack of either funding or permission for serious marine ecosystem restoration.

2016 PRIORITIES

In 2016 GCRA’s top priorities will be the global bleaching crisis caused by record global high temperatures and El Niño, documenting coral survival on bleached Biorock projects, reconnecting old Biorock projects in the Maldives before bleaching hits, starting new Biorock Coral Arks to maintain surviving coral populations in as many places as possible before impacts get worse, starting Biorock shore protection reef projects to grow eroded beaches back naturally in as many places as possible, and starting large-scale Biorock mangrove, sea grass, and salt marsh carbon restoration projects as possible, while continuing to promote soil carbon solutions to reverse global climate change from research, implementation, to global policy stages.

2016 KEY YEAR IN CORAL REEF EXTINCTION FROM GLOBAL WARMING

It is now 25 years since I showed the satellite sea surface temperature data at Al Gore’s US Senate Hearings on Climate Change proving that coral reefs were already being damaged by global warming, and that the threshold for severe coral bleaching was only 1 degree C. In 1992 at the signing of the Framework Convention on Climate Change in Rio de Janeiro I warned that the treaty would not prevent most corals from dying from high temperatures in the next 20 years. For 25 years governments have simply let the corals die, while denying there were global impacts of high temperature. Now they are mostly gone, and the Paris agreement is too weak to protect them. 2016 will be a record high temperature year, beating the 2015 record according to the UK Met Office. In 2015 severe coral bleaching hit Florida, Hawaii, Cuba, and Panama. It will be crucial to document all bleaching in 2016 in the hope that CO2 can be controlled in time to prevent the complete extinction of coral reefs, which is just barely possible if serious action were to start immediately both building Biorock Coral Arks to maintain temperature resistant populations where possible and reducing future impacts of global warming by increasing soil carbon.

Thomas J. Goreau, PhD
President, Global Coral Reef Alliance
President, Biorock Technology Inc.
Coordinator, Soil Carbon Alliance
Coordinator, United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development Small Island Developing States Partnership in New Sustainable Technologies


2015 GCRA ACTIVITIES

2015 GCRA ACTIVITIES

GCRA develops new projects in around 10 countries every year, but since we are constantly busy we never have time to keep the web page up to date, so it may seem we are up to nothing! Here is a list of some major projects done in 2015.

INDONESIA

Indonesia continued to have most Biorock coral reef restoration projects in the world as Indonesian Biorock groups continued to install many new projects in Bali, Lombok, Java, Sulawesi, Ambon, Flores, and Sumbawa, with more constantly under development. Biorock Indonesia PT was formed as the umbrella group for future Biorock projects along with Yayasan Karang Lestari (Protected Coral Foundation, winner of the 2012 UN Equator Award for Community Based Development and the Special UNDP Award for Ocean and Coastal Management), and local partners. Tom Goreau taught the 10th Indonesian Biorock Coral Reef and Fisheries Restoration Training Workshop during the Bali Buleleng Dive Festival. Large, spectacular new projects were installed in Bali and Sulawesi. A Biorock shore protection reef to grow back an eroded beach was designed and installed in Sulawesi, and a similar project was designed in West Papua to be installed next year. An integrated whole-watershed and coastal zone nutrient, water, and soil management plan was drafted to protect the coral reefs of Pemuteran, Bali, from eutrophication, and collaboration with the Indonesian Biodiversity Research Center of Udayana University was established.

PANAMA

New Biorock coral reef, sea grass, and mangrove restoration projects were installed at the Galeta Marine Laboratory in collaboration with Dr. Stanley Heckadon of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institution. The solar powered Biorock coral reef restoration project at Yandup, Uggupseni, Guna Yala (Autonomous Guna Indian territory) was expanded. This pilot project aims to save Guna islands now being abandoned due to sea level rise. All Panama Caribbean coral reefs underwent severe high temperature coral bleaching in 2015, affecting both Biorock projects. The Galeta Biorock project is located next to a similar unpowered control structure, so comparison of coral mortality and survival on the two structures will allow benefits of Biorock to be determined. We expect Biorock corals will show much higher coral recovery and survival based on results after severe bleaching events in the Maldives, Thailand, and Indonesia. When results are available they will be posted here.

CURAÇAO

The largest Biorock coral restoration project in the Caribbean was installed in Curaçao with Curaçao Divers. The project consists of 7 Biorock reefs linked together on the shelf slope. The corals show excellent growth, and fish populations are building up. The latest reports from Curaçao Divers will be reported here.

SAINT BARTHELEMY

The Biorock coral reef restoration project in St. Barthelemy continued to show excellent growth of all four Acropora species (elkhorn, staghorn, and both hybrid varieties), as well as all other coral species, and has created an oasis of coral, fish and plankton in a barren, high wave stress environment. New Biorock coral reef restoration projects to restore deeper coral reefs, and to grow back shallow reefs to cause eroded beach sand to grow back naturally, were planned and approved for installation in 2016.

BAHAMAS

Cutting edge work on the response of sharks to low voltage direct current electrical fields was done in Bimini with Marcella Uchoa and Craig O’Neill. The dramatic results will be reported here when published. The Biorock coral reef and seagrass restoration project in Abaco continues to show excellent coral growth, spectacular seagrass growth, and dense fish populations, and our long term studies of corals killed by algae overgrowth and diseases near golf course nutrient sources continues.

MEXICO

An environmental assessment for restoration of threatened endemic species in the Sea of Cortez using Biorock mariculture methods, and for development of tidal current energy resources, was done, and approved by the Indigenous Comca’ac (Seri) Indian Ejido of Sonora. Pilot projects should start in early 2016

POLYNESIA

Biorock ecotourism coral restoration projects by Denis Schneider of Espace Bleu have expanded to more hotels in Bora Bora, Raiatea, and Moorea, and research has shown Biorock benefits for giant clams, pearl oysters, and corals. A collaborative proposal for research on effects of Biorock on coral settlement was funded by the French government and will start in early 2016.

SPAIN

Research projects with collaborators at the Plentzia Marine Laboratory of the University of the Basque Country in Spain found electrical fields resulted in greatly increased cell proliferation rates in mussel livers. Biorock minerals grown under different conditions were identified and their chemistry determined. Further research is underway on fundamental biophysical, biochemical, and cellular effects of the Biorock process.

UNITED STATES

Tom Goreau gave talks on climate, soil, water, and temperature interactions at the Conference on Restoring Water Cycles to Reverse Global Warming in Boston, and was active in leading the Soil Carbon Alliance efforts to urge governments to reverse global climate change through increasing soil carbon. The solar-powered Biorock coral reef restoration projects at Lauderdale By The Sea came to the end of their mandated three year monitoring program. The Town terminated all funding for the project and cut off the cables to the solar power buoys the Biorock team had designed and built to remove them. The project was literally cut off from power right during a severe high temperature coral bleaching event, when most needed! The project could easily be powered from a nearby fishing pier, but funding is crucially needed to save it.

CUBA

Tom Goreau gave papers on use of wave energy to restore coral reefs and regrow beaches naturally at the Cuban Marine Science Congress, on soil carbon, climate change, and soil fertility restoration at the Cuban Agro-Ecology Conference, and met with coral reef and shore protection colleagues.

FRANCE

Tom Goreau gave several talks at the Paris UN Framework Convention on Climate Change as a delegate of the Caribbean Community Centre for Climate Change. These talks, in both government delegate areas and the public areas, focused on vulnerability of reefs and coasts to climate change, soil carbon to stabilize CO2 at safe levels, and on restoration of marine ecosystems, fisheries, and coasts.

These materials are summarized in the video links below:

http://www.globalcoral.org/tom-goreau-presentation-paris-cop-21-122015-united-nations-framework-convention-on-climate-change/

http://www.globalcoral.org/tom-goreau-presentation-at-paris-cop-21-122015-united-nations-framework-convention-on-climate-change/

http://www.globalcoral.org/after-paris-decade-of-soil-organic-carbon-to-reverse-climate-change-and-save-coral-reefs/

OTHER COUNTRIES

New projects were approved for early 2016 in Italy, Papua, Indonesia, Vanuatu, and Saint Martin, and possibly more, while many requests for new projects came from a dozen more countries, but did not move forward due to lack of either funding or permission for serious marine ecosystem restoration.

2016 PRIORITIES

In 2016 GCRA’s top priorities will be the global bleaching crisis caused by record global high temperatures and El Niño, documenting coral survival on bleached Biorock projects, reconnecting old Biorock projects in the Maldives before bleaching hits, starting new Biorock Coral Arks to maintain surviving coral populations in as many places as possible before impacts get worse, starting Biorock shore protection reef projects to grow eroded beaches back naturally in as many places as possible, and starting large-scale Biorock mangrove, sea grass, and salt marsh carbon restoration projects as possible, while continuing to promote soil carbon solutions to reverse global climate change from research, implementation, to global policy stages.

2016 KEY YEAR IN CORAL REEF EXTINCTION FROM GLOBAL WARMING

It is now 25 years since I showed the satellite sea surface temperature data at Al Gore’s US Senate Hearings on Climate Change proving that coral reefs were already being damaged by global warming, and that the threshold for severe coral bleaching was only 1 degree C. In 1992 at the signing of the Framework Convention on Climate Change in Rio de Janeiro I warned that the treaty would not prevent most corals from dying from high temperatures in the next 20 years. For 25 years governments have simply let the corals die, while denying there were global impacts of high temperature. Now they are mostly gone, and the Paris agreement is too weak to protect them. 2016 will be a record high temperature year, beating the 2015 record according to the UK Met Office. In 2015 severe coral bleaching hit Florida, Hawaii, Cuba, and Panama. It will be crucial to document all bleaching in 2016 in the hope that CO2 can be controlled in time to prevent the complete extinction of coral reefs, which is just possible if serious action were to start immediately both building Biorock Coral Arks to maintain temperature resistant populations where possible and reducing future impacts of global warming by increasing soil carbon.

Thomas J. Goreau, PhD, President, Global Coral Reef Alliance

 


Brief overview of Biorock Technology Applications

revised: July 10 2014

Biorock® Technology:
Cost-effective solutions to major marine resource management problems including construction and repair, shore protection, ecological restoration, sustainable aquaculture, and climate change adaptation

Thomas J. Goreau, PhD
President, Global Coral Reef Alliance

INTRODUCTION

BIOROCK® technology is a innovative technology that uses safe, very low-voltage, electrical “trickle” charges to grow and repair marine structures at any scale and to rapidly grow or restore vibrant marine ecosystems.

The BIOROCK® process was originally invented by the late architect Professor Wolf Hilbertz to produce natural building materials in the sea (also known as Seacrete, Seament, and Mineral Accretion), and developed by him and biogeochemist Dr. Tom Goreau to restore degraded marine ecosystems, fisheries, and beaches.

BIOROCK® provides greater benefits, faster results, and lower costs than any other alternative to solve a wide range of crucial marine management problems:

 
BIOROCK TECHNOLOGY PDF document


Restoring coral reefs through art initiative breathes new life into Senggigi Beach

Sudibyo M. Wiradji, The Jakarta Post | Supplement | Thu, June 05 2014, 2:46 PM

Biorock, Indonesian, Senggigi, art, restoration, marine, habitat
Underwater work: Divers install art structures anchored to the reef rubble under the water (left). Artist Teguh Ostenrik takes part in the work. (Courtesy of Foued Kaddachi)

Underwater installations for an artificial reef park not only attract fish and divers but also benefit locals.

Senggigi Beach in Lombok, one of Indonesia’s emerging tourist destinations, is on its way to regaining it lost heyday as a habitat for shrimp, lobster, squid, jelly fish and other unique marine species.

The beach lost its appeal years ago due to the destruction of coral as a result of human activities and natural aspects. But the underwater world at the beach has now started to show signs of life following the underwater installment of art structures that make up an artificial reef park, also known as “underwater art gallery”.

“Once the art installations are placed underwater and are electrified, fish will come in throngs and swarm around them,” said celebrated local artist Teguh Ostenrik at the launch of the first Artificial Reef Park Lombok at Senggigi Beach recently.

Clad in a swimsuit, the creator of the Artificial Reef Park went on to say, “My dream is how to make a serious art piece useful for others in terms of providing job opportunities.”

“The three-month long project kept Pak Haji (owner of scrap metal workshop) busy preparing the needed materials for the project, with several others engaged in cutting, drilling, welding and so forth.”

With the “ART-ificial reef park,” as Teguh calls it, he expects it to serve as a gentle ocean floor for viewing art while snorkeling and diving among the marine life.

The underwater Artificial Reef Park Lombok adds to the list of biorock reef restoration projects across the world. Two of the largest projects are in Indonesia at Pemuteran in Bali with the Karang Lestari and the Gili Islands in Lombok with the Gili Eco trust. Both Karang Lestari and Gili Eco Trust are actively engaged in restoring and conserving coral reefs.

The inauguration of the eco-friendly artificial reef park took place on the Senggigi seaside and was part of a tourist attraction, enlivening the usually quiet beach.

The crowd’s attention was focused on the remaining scrap metal sculpture as West Lombok officials, represented by local marine affairs and fisheries agency head MS Rohadi R., and Stephane Servin, head of the Lombok Hotel Association, poured coconut water onto it in turns prior to the sinking of the art pieces to the cement seafloor moorings.

Several divers, including Delphine Robbe, reef restoration specialist at Gili Eco Trust, took the art piece by diving toward a designated spot where 15 others had been anchored to the reef rubble the day before. The 7 x 9 meter-reef park weighing around 1.6 tons was connected to a low-voltage electrical current generated by a floating solar panel.

The use of the low-voltage electrical current is not without reason.

“This will cause minerals in the water to form and adhere to the sculpture,” said Robbe, a consultant for the project. “Live coral fragments are then transplanted from other reefs and because the biorock is so similar to natural coral reef material, a new garden grows, often at two or three times the rate of a natural reef.”

According to her, the electrical current is what attracts marine life. “All those artificial reefs using everything from airplanes to ships to old railroad cars have proven to be a disappointment, rusting away and polluting the sea,” she said.

“Sculptures were used in Mexico’s massive Mesoamerican Reef some years ago as an example, but all they seemed to attract were sponges and algae. The electrification is the key. And it is completely safe for swimmers and marine life.”

I Komang Adi Aswantara, solution engineer at Contained Energy that supplied two panels in the initial project, ensured the safety of the sculptures despite the electrification. “The electrical current at the biorocks is very low and it is safe for divers and other marine species. That’s why we use the term ‘low-voltage electrical current’,” he asserted.

The artificial reef park was a collaborative effort of the Lombok Hotel Association (LHA) and the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry, with support from Indonesia-based Gili Eco Trust.

For the 64-year-old Teguh, the project is closely linked to his diving experience and concern about the changes in the marine environment.

Back in the 1980s when he snorkeled at Senggigi Beach, the beach was known as a habitat for lobster and squid. “I dived at the reef for years for its abundance of shrimp, squid and lobster. I had not been for a few years while in Europe and when I came back, the reef was sadly a lifeless desert,” he said.

The fact inspired him to recreate Domus Sepiae – Latin for house of squid, as a form of remembrance of what Senggigi was once so well-known for. “This project allows me to play a part in revitalizing the lost coral and to do it through my art.”

Small drop in the ocean

Meanwhile, Stephane Servin, general manager of the Sentosa Resort in Senggigi and chairman of the LHA, said the project would have a positive, long-term impact on Lombok’s fast growing tourist industry.

“We can’t pick up and move our hotels when the reef dies,” he remarked. “So, obviously it’s plain common sense to do whatever possible to preserve and protect the natural features that brought visitors here to begin with. And if possible, repair and recreate them using biorock science and at the same time we bring back the livelihoods for so many who relied on a healthy reef.”

According to Servin, apart from destructive human activities, such as bomb fishing, the cause of damage to coral reefs also comes from nature itself, notably El Nino. “El Nino creates high temperature, leading to seawater becoming hot and leaving coral dead,” he pointed out.

The project is a drop in the ocean, but “it is really an integrated program in which there is win-win situation: nature, business and people”.

“With more tourists coming to Senggigi Beach thanks to the artificial reef park, locals can have a new business opportunity of accompanying visitors eager to snorkel in the water around the park.”

Original article URL:


Questions and answers about Biorock installations

1) What is the cost of installing a structure of 10 m2 width x 5 mt2 height?

I guess you mean 10m x 10m x 5 m, or 100 square meters? A very rough estimate would be $10,000 including travel, time, and expenses for our team. Compare the cost of house the same dimensions. Of course this is highly dependent on the actual design of the structure, the amount of materials and electricity needed, power source used (solar panels would make it more expensive!), depth, distance from shore, and wave energy at the site.

2) Is it necessary to transplant corals to the structure, or would they also group the structure because of they proximity to a natural reef?

We get record growth rates of corals, and also record rates of baby coral settlement, but not under the same conditions. When we grow quickly to maximize structural strength (as is needed where there is high wave energy) then the millimeter sized baby corals are overgrown by the minerals. We can reduce the power later and get very high settlement, but normally we transplant naturally broken corals (which would otherwise die) and grow them very rapidly for the fastest results.

3) What is the death rate of transplanted corals?

We don’t have good numbers on this. There is some mortality to be sure, because of diseases, storm damage, tourists, and in the Pacific where many coral species are genetically programmed to die when they reach a certain size, but the mortality is much less than transplantation to artificial substrates like cement, because our corals have much higher survival under high temperatures, sedimentation, and nutrients.

4) How long does a coral take to get attach to the structure, and how long does the structure take to adhere to the ocean floor?

We see corals start to overgrow the limestone substrate within a day, they are usually firmly attached within a week. The structures will cement themselves to hard rock bottom on the same time scale, being more firmly attached with time. A few days ago I got a report that some of our seagrass restoration projects in southern Italy (Mediterranean) were so solidly “welded” on to the rock they could not remove them.

5) What kind of species can be transplanted, and which not (Does the ocean depth have any impact on these)?

All species of corals, both hard and soft do well, but some do much better than others. Very fragile corals can grow fast but tend to break. A few species respond less well than others, for reasons we don’t yet understand, but most grow at record rates. We can work at any depth, in Sweden we are growing deep cold water corals in the lab, and could grow them using Remotely Operated Vehicles for maintenance on deep oil rigs, for example. Wolf Hilbertz got mineral growth at a depth of I think around 5,000 meters in the Cayman Trench. But to be effective shore protection structures will come near to the water surface, and for snorkeling reefs I prefer around 5 meters depth, shallow enough for tourists to see but deep enough that they can’t damage them (most can’t swim very well, and can damage anything they can kick). Deeper structures for divers are no problem but require much more diving time, as one uses air quickly while doing hard physical work.

6) How often should the structures be visited, and what kind of special care they demand?

Simple visual observations or photographs can tell us if it is working. Maintenance mainly involves pulling off algae or sponges that might overgrow coral, and any coral eating animals, like fireworms (gusano de fuego) or certain snails. The main cause of problems are electrical cables broken by hurricanes, but these can be easily repaired. Where shore transformers are used, erratic power can burn them out. For serious repairs Gabriel will be close by, and we would plan to train local partners for routine maintenance.

7) What is the most suitable system to provide energy for the coral structure?

This is very site specific. We have used transformers to power projects where there is electricity at the shore, but we are now building our own proprietary power supplies that are more efficient, allowing larger projects to be built further away. We have done many solar projects (but this is the most expensive option unless there is no alternative), and wind powered projects. Much of our focus now lies in using ocean currents and wave energy to make power on site, but the first is very site specific.

8) What is the estimated energy consumption of structure?

That depends on the amount of steel and how fast one wants it to grow, but we often grow structures say 6-7 meters in diameter using around 30-50 watts, or like a dim light bulb. Large structures, say 20 m across, will use a few hundred watts, like a bright light bulb. We can grow a reef the whole length of a beach for around as much electricity as the shore lights, or a couple of air conditioners worth of electricity.

9) How much does the maintenance of the structure costs per year?

We don’t have really good figures for this. The electricity is equivalent to a very small part of what any hotel spends on lighting or air conditioners. If there is serious damage and we need to come and replace cables or power supplies that of course costs more.

10) What kind of training does a diver need to install this kind of systems?

Special training is needed, because although the concepts are simple and easily taught, they have to be done right, and that takes experience and hands-on training. The craft of workmanship is as important as the concepts. That is why we are about to hold the 7th Indonesian Biorock Training Workshop. We have not yet held one in the Caribbean, but we typically train our local partners when we install a project. Not all pay enough attention to do it all themselves without a little help the first time, but those who are really motivated do.

11) Is there any specific layout or accommodation for the corals to optimize the growth? What’s the optimum spacing between each coral? Or should it be together?

The more corals the faster the fishes come to it. But we rarely have enough time to transplant as much coral as we would like. In some cases dedicated local partners have completely covered them with corals, with excellent results, but that is a lot of work. We try to maximize diversity and grow quick growing corals that we can propagate.

12) What are the specs of the structure? Material soldering procedure? And what are the best ways to transport it to the installation place?

Best is to weld the structure on land, but we have made many structures simply tied together with wire. However that is not as good if there is heavy wave surge, as the structure is weakest at first and gets stronger with time. We usually float the structure to the site by carrying and swimming it to the site or towing it by boat or on board the boat.


Tourism and Sustainable Coral Reefs

Tourism And Sustainable Coral Reefs
October 5 2009
Global Coral Reef Alliance White Paper

Thomas J. Goreau abc*
a President, Global Coral Reef Alliance, Cambridge, MA, USA
b Scientific Advisor, Yayasan Karang Lestari, Pemuteran, Bali, Indonesia
c Scientific Advisor, Gili Eco Trust, Gili Trawangan, Lombok, Indonesia

*Email: goreau@bestweb.net

ABSTRACT
Environmentally unsustainable tourism has been a major, although localized, contributor to coral reef destruction and degradation, severely impacting ecotourism quality, beach sand supplies, protection of coastlines from erosion, fisheries, and marine biodiversity. Nevertheless, hotels and dive shops could readily apply modern coral reef restoration methods to grow back reefs, providing high quality ecotourism in front of Ray Ban outlet resorts, growing back sandy beaches naturally, restoring fisheries habitat, and preserving marine species from global warming extinction. A large-scale effort by the tourism industry is proposed to make tourism part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. National and international policies are needed to encourage this.

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