Before and After : Biorock Electric Reefs in Curaçao

Before and After time-lapse series by Michael Duss showing spectacular coral growth on Biorock electric reefs in Curaçao.

This video shows the coral development at our BioRock project in Curacao with the status September 2017. The video was created by the Curacao Divers for the Curacao BioRock Foundation.


Shark bites deterred by Biorock Electric Coral Reef Projects

Coral reefs are the most biologically diverse marine ecosystems and provide vital ecosystem services. Global warming, deteriorating water quality, overharvesting, and other threats are accelerating coral reef decline. An innovative coral reef restoration method, invented by Prof. Wolf Hilbertz and Dr. Tom Goreau, Biorock® technology, uses electricity to make corals to grow faster and healthier, and survive lethal bleaching temperatures.

A study entitled “The effects of Biorock-associated electric fields on the Caribbean reef shark (Carcharhinus perezi)and the bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas)” just published in ANIMAL BIOLOGY by Marcella Uchoa, Craig O’Connell and Tom Goreau investigated how electric fields associated with Biorock reefs influence behavior of sharks and bony fishes. It is well known that sharks can feel extremely weak electrical fields through specialized electroreceptors called ampullae of Lorenzini.

They studied behavioral responses of two shark species, the bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas) and the Caribbean reef shark (Carcharhinus perezi) and several bony fish species towards weak electric fields in Bimini, Bahamas. Statistical analyses of 90 trials found both shark species fed the least, and avoided bait food they knew was there, when the electric field was turned on. Sharks approached the bait yet completely missed and exhibited signs of disorientation. Since detection of electric fields by sharks is important in the final phases of prey capture, Biorock generated electric fields clearly confused them. In contrast, bony fish feeding behavior was not affected by the electrical field.

This study demonstrates a need for future studies with more species of shark and fish species around Biorock electrical reef restoration projects, since deterrence of sharks, as top predators, may impact ecosystem balance”, said Marcella Uchoa, a Brazilian student who did the study for her Masters Degree in the RIMER Erasmus Mundi Marine Science Program at the University of the Basque Country, Spain. “Since this initial study demonstrated that Biorock reefs elicit close-range shark deterrent responses, further testing is warranted to assess the ability for these systems to serve as either a personalized shark deterrent or a shoreline bather protection system” said Craig O’Connell, head of the O’Seas Conservation Foundation, which specializes in shark behavior and conservation. Tom Goreau, President of the Global Coral Reef Alliance added that “Biorock electric reefs could benefit humans and sharks as well as corals and fishes. The electrical fields inhibit attacks in the vicinity of restoration projects, but would not affect sharks further away, so it helps preserve coral reefs, fishes, humans, and sharks at the same time, while avoiding the damage and bycatch from nets, baited hooks on lines, and poisons”.

Biorock, shark, bite, Bimini, Goreau, Hilbertz
Marcella Uchoa preparing fish food for sharks in Bimini (photograph by Craig O’Connell)

For more information please contact: info (think)

The role of the community in supporting coral reef restoration in Pemuteran, Bali, Indonesia

Biorock coral reef restoration in Pemuteran is shown in this paper to have strong support of all sectors of the community because restoration of the economic, environmental, and ecosystem services the reef provides have transformed their way of life from the poorest village in Bali to one of the most prosperous.

Coral reef restoration projects have been conducted worldwide to increase the viability of damaged coral reef ecosystems. Most failed to show significant results. A few have succeeded and gained international recognition for their great benefits to ecosystem services. This study evaluated reef restoration projects in North-west Bali from the perspective of the local community over the past 16 years. As community participation is a critical support system for coral reef restoration projects, the contributing factors which led to high community participation and positive perceptions are examined. Social surveys and statistical analysis were used to understand the correlations between community perception and participation. The findings showed a positive correlation between community perception and participation. The level of community participation also depended on how their work relates to coral reef ecosystems. They supported this project in many ways, from project planning to the religious ceremonies which they believe are fundamental to achieve a successful project. Several Balinese leaders became ‘the bridge’ between global science and local awareness. Without their leadership, this study argues that the project might not have achieved the significant local support that has restored both the environment and the tourism sector in North-West Bali.

Download PDF:
The role of the community in supporting coral reef restoration in Pemuteran, Bali, Indonesia

Elkhorn Reef Restoration: Westender, Jamaica after 1 month

June 29 2017

Thomas J. F. Goreau

In the 1950s Jamaica was surrounded by some of the finest coral reefs in the Caribbean, which were the first in the world to be studied by diving (Goreau & Goreau, 1959). These were almost all destroyed by eutrophication caused by untreated sewage, hurricanes, and dredging (Goreau, 1992) and have continued to deteriorate, causing a bottom up collapse of the fisheries due to lack of shelter and food, quite independently of top-down collapse caused by overharvesting.

Marine protected areas where the corals are dead and dying will not restore fisheries, so active restoration of the habitat to provide the fish with shelter and food is needed for the fish populations to recover.

New technologies to rapidly restore coral reefs were invented in Jamaica in 1987, but have been abandoned in Jamaica for 25 years due to lack of support and funding from both Jamaican and foreign institutions.

The Biorock electric reef restoration project at Westender Inn, Westmoreland, is the first new project using locally-invented technology in Jamaica for 25 years:

Biorock Coral Restoration comes back to Jamaica after 25 years

This tiny pilot project aims to show how community-managed groups can restore their coral reef and fisheries around Jamaica.

The project was set up in May, 2017. This report shows the first photographs of the new coral growth, taken in June 2017, after one month.

This area used to be a solid forest of elhorn coral reaching the surface, that you could not swim over (see photograph below of a typical Jamaican reef around 60 years ago). That forest of coral was smashed into dead rubble by hurricanes and has never recovered. While a few small corals have managed to settle, the reef has lost its structure, its biodiversity, and its ability to provide fish with shelter and food. Worse, the limestone bedrock below is being systematically excavated and eroded by dense populations of sea urchins. The very small Westender pilot project aims to turn a collapsed vanishing reef back into a lush growing one, full of fish.

Since there are so few elkhorn corals left, and since we use only naturally broken fragments found on the bottom, most of which are in poor condition, we could only find a handful of them to transplant onto the new Biorock reef. Most of these pieces were very small, but all are growing well.

The photos below show that all have recovered from the physical damage they had previously suffered and all are growing rapidly. Already new branches are forming, and the small white spots are new coral polyps showing extremely rapid coral growth. The corals can be seen to be already overgrowing and attaching themselves to the structure.

The small corals that have previously settled on the dead reef rock will grow faster, and so will the “good” algae, the calcareous branching algae that are the source of the beach sand. Greatly increased settlement of new corals will also become obvious in the coming year.

In May the steel framework attached over the dead reef rock was red and rusting. In June it has been completely covered by growing limestone rock. The spacing of the mesh, 6 inches or 15 centimeters, provides a scale. Fish immediately began to move in to the project site.

Photographs by Dan Brewer, except for the first, which was taken around 60 years ago by the late Prof. Thomas F. Goreau, founder of Jamaican coral reef science.


Coral, Sea Grass, and Mangrove Restoration Galeta Lab, Panama

June 27 2017
Coral Reef, Sea Grass, and Mangrove Restoration Projects using Biorock Technology at Galeta Marine Laboratory, Colon, Panama
Preliminary Report and Recommendations
Thomas J. F. Goreau-Arango
Gabriel Despaigne-Ceballos

Biorock electric coral reef, sea grass, and mangrove restoration project are underway at the Galeta Marine Laboratory. This cutting edge new technology greatly increases the settlement, growth, survival, and resistance to stress of all marine organisms (Goreau & Hilbertz, 2005; Goreau & Trench, 2014; Goreau 2014).
The restoration projects are a Memorial to the first Panamanian marine scientist, Dra. Nora Isabel Arango de Urriola y Goreau, 1921-2016:

In Memoriam: Dr. Nora Goreau April 25 1921 – December 18 2016 – Mother of Coral Reef Science

They were built and installed in 2015 by two Panamanian divers, Gabriel Despaigne Ceballos, President of Diving Contractors Panama SA, and Dr. Thomas Joaquin Goreau-Arango, President of the Global Coral Reef Alliance. The coral projects are visible on live camera at the Galeta Laboratory web site:
It is crucial for the corals to have the extra energy provided by the Biorock process before coral bleaching affects Panama, which is expected soon since temperatures there have reached bleaching levels unusually early in the year. Biorock corals show up to 50 times (5,000%) higher survival after severe bleaching.

Results to date show that all coral species are have grown very well on the Biorock reef (Agaricia tenuifolia, Porites astreoides, Porites divaricata, Montastrea (Orbicella) annularis, Siderastrea siderea, Stephanocoenia intersepta).
In contrast only one coral species is doing very well on the control structure, Porites divaricata, while the other species have shown considerable mortality.
The Biorock structure is not rusting, and is growing limestone rock over the steel, becoming thicker and stronger with age. The control structure is rusting, becoming thinner and weaker with age. Eventually the control structure will collapse, and then any surviving corals should be transplanted to the Biorock structure.
Fish constantly move between the reef structures and the surrounding areas, so they are hard to count. However there appear to be more fishes, and especially more juvenile fishes, in and around the Biorock structure than the control structure.
Both the seagrass and mangrove projects had good growth of minerals on them. The seagrass bed on the reef flat was badly damaged by sedimentation during recent boat channel excavation, and most of the seagrass seemed to be dying, yet the Biorock seagrass was lush and green. This could be because the Biorock seagrass was less affected by sediments or due to more rapid growth. Loss of seagrass on the reef flat will result in increased erosion and reduced capacity to adapt to rising sea levels.
There was good growth of marine organisms, including corals, sponges, and oysters on the mangrove roots in the mangrove project area, as well as numerous juvenile fish, seemingly more than in similar areas further away.
The projects were all working well until February 2017. Shortly after that Trevor Mendelow of View Into The Blue sent Zachary Rago to maintain the camera. All 6 electrical cables to the projects were cut, and all of the electrodes and the sign on the project honoring the memory of the first Panamanian marine biologist, were missing afterwards. After the vandalism was found in May, all cut cables were immediately repaired and the stolen electrodes replaced. Only Goreau, Despaigne, and Mendelow knew where they were, and other than Rago no one else visited the site, which is under armed guard. An improved mounting for the charger was made. However, since the electrician was away we were unable to change the old, badly corroded electrical junction box at the base of the pillar to which the charger is mounted. This could leak in heavy waves, causing risk of electrical shorting. We bought a new outdoor junction box with seals and will replace the old one at the first opportunity. In addition, we will hard-wire the charger directly into the power line with its own on/off switch, so that both the outlets will be available to the lab (one is now occupied by the charger plug).

Recovery from sabotage:
Within a day after power was restored new patches of white minerals could be seen growing on the Biorock structure, while the control shows red rust spots. It is important to document the recovery of the project after several months without power. The Biorock corals should become more fluorescent, darker in color, and grow faster again.
There appears to have been an increase in stinging hydroids on the project while the power was off, similar to those seen on the control. Hydroids are common on artificial steel substrates in the ocean, but rare on Biorock reefs, so it is expected that they will now decrease on the Biorock but not the control.

The Colon area has been at near bleaching temperatures for a couple of months, unusually early in the year, and bleaching is likely later in the year when water temperatures usually rise. Because the benefit of the Biorock process is the DIRECT effect of the electrical field, and is not residual, it is especially important to maintain power continuously when bleaching hits.
The results so far (despite months without power due to sabotage) are so good that more naturally broken corals should be rescued and transplanted when the opportunity arises. However, it is very important that the size and color of the corals be documented photographically right away, so that future changes in them can be documented. The fish populations in both Biorock and control domes, and nearby control sites should be documented. Regular photographs of the corals are needed to measure growth rates, which would be an excellent project for a Panamanian marine biology student.
Because the charger is being used well under capacity, the projects can be expanded. We suggest use of long wires from the Biorock project to add a small trickle charge to the nearest natural coral reefs at the edge of the channel and see if their growth is also stimulated (as we have found in Indonesia). That way much larger areas of reef will benefit by faster coral growth, higher coral settlement, and higher resistance to sedimentation and bleaching from high temperatures.

Changes in seagrass biomass, growth, sediment carbon, and commensal organisms should be documented, but a comparable control site nearby needs to be selected. The Biorock method should be applied to damaged seagrass in the heavily sedimented area to see if their recovery is enhanced, as is expected.

It is hard to compare the effects of the mangrove project because it is in the middle of a mature mangrove that is impossible to walk through. It is recommended that new mangrove plots be established near the boat ramp, where sedimentation has raised the bottom into the intertidal zone and where mangroves are now spreading outward. Small Biorock and control plots can be established with Rhizophora seedlings transplanted in them, so that the effects on above ground and below ground mangrove growth can be documented. Both sea grass and salt marshhave been shown to have higher root and shoot growth with Biorock. Since most mangrove and seagrass transplantation projects fail because the roots fail to establish before waves wash the plants out, Biorock methods could greatly increase success of large scale mangrove restoration that will be increasingly needed when sea level rise accelerates. Small Biorock plots could be powered by a solar panel.
A graduate student from Ecuador, Fatima Andrade, is interested in doing a mangrove restoration project there for her Masters thesis, doing field work from February to August 2018. Since the project will become a long term one, a Panamanian student should be trained to continue the project. An application should be made to STRI for this proposed project with Stanley Heckadon and Tom Goreau as PIs.

The camera wiper arm is not working, and the dome was seen to be covered with sediment, blocking the view. This should be wiped clean from time to time. Whenever Trevor Mendelow, Zachary Rago, or anyone from VITB, comes to check the camera, they need to be watched closely at all times, especially when in the water, to prevent future theft and vandalism.

Below are all the photos of the project, in the interest of complete documentation, although some are repetitive. We also have video taken at these and other times. We will download these from back-up drives, edit then, and post them later.
June 13 2015

Solomon Islands to start worlds largest Mariculture farm

Solomon Islands to start worlds largest Mariculture farm at Ontong Java Atoll
June 20 2017

The Solomon Islands government approved a new mariculture farm and hatchery project, expected to be the world’s largest, on June 1 2017.

It will be located in Ontong Java, one of the world’s largest and most remote atolls, with over 1,380 square kilometers of natural productive habitat that will be actively restocked, managed, and sustainably harvested.

The new farm has been organized by Dr. Reginald W. Aipia, medical doctor and entrepreneur of the Ontong Java Development Company Ltd., technology provider Erik Wilton Hagberg of Pacific Aquaculture Cooperatives International Inc., with guidance from Dr. Tom Goreau of the Global Coral Reef Alliance and Biorock Technology Inc.

The project has gained full approval of the Solomon Islands Fisheries Department, having satisfied strict technical qualifications to obtain licensing. Fisheries staff will work collaboratively with the program providing further technical assistance, monitoring, and certification of all products resulting from the project.

The mariculture farm will involve the entire community, and focus on production of sea cucumbers, giant clams, and other species, using innovative reproduction methods developed by Hagberg, combined with all the known benefits of Biorock technology such as increased growth rate, survival, larval settlement, and resistance to environmental stresses like high temperature.
Sea cucumbers and giant clams are being rapidly overharvested worldwide due to their high value for food. Sea cucumbers are also a source of naturally occurring pharmaceuticals. Extracts from sea cucumbers are already included in promising treatments for cancer, arthritis, HIV, herpes, and more.

The unprecedented size and productivity of Ontong Java Atoll, coupled with year-round farming activities could result in Ontong Java becoming the first place to provide sustainable sources of pharmaceutical companies with the raw materials needed to commercialize new medical treatments, with significant added value to the people of the Solomon Islands.

The Solomon Islands Government had previously banned export of sea cucumbers due to concern over their rapid decline. Sea cucumbers play a central role in outer island economics, with some communities deriving as much as 90% of their total income from producing dried sea cucumbers. The existing pattern of open and closed seasons, usually 3 months every 3 years, has severe negative economic and human impact on the affected communities. The venture’s new comprehensive farming and management approach will normalize activities year-round, providing lucrative sustainable livelihoods for the target communities.

Solar powered Biorock shore protection structures, and a variety of Biorock mariculture enclosures will be grown to increase shore protection, grow back eroding beaches, and ensure sustainable yields of target species long into the future. The entire atoll will serve as a laboratory for developing methods to protect atolls from overfishing, global sea level rise, and economic despair using new technology and ethical business practices.

The Chief Fisheries Officer of the Solomon Islands Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, John Legata, said that “We see mariculture as way of turning vanishing resources into permanent and sustainable income for residents, and hope to expand sustainable mariculture to other islands in the future”. The Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, the Hon. Manasseh Sogavare, said that he would “render full support for the farming to start immediately”.


For more information please contact:
Dr. Reginald W. Aipia
Ontong Java Development Co. Ltd, Opp. NRH car park; Chinatown
P. O. Box 366, Honiara; Solomon Islands
Cell: +677-7475424
Tel: +677-22054 Fax: +677 22061

Regenerative Development to Reverse Climate Change at UN


The World’s nations recognized the rapidly increasing death of ocean ecosystems and called for a slowdown of the rate at which they are deteriorating, with a special focus on recycling plastics

More importantly, they called for the first time for the regeneration of critically endangered coral reefs, mangroves, seagrasses, and salt marshes, and their valuable ecological and economic services.

The World Ocean Day Celebration at the United Nations Oceans Conference, sponsored by the United Nations Development Program, the Equator Initiative, and the Governments of Germany and Norway, specially honored the Yayasan Karang Lestari (Protected Coral Foundation) from Pemuteran, Bali, Indonesia, for restoring their coral reef and fisheries with Biorock technology. By turning environmental disaster into economic opportunity, the poorest village on the island became one of the most prosperous because people come from all over the world to swim in the corals and fishes.

Tom Goreau spoke on NEW METHODS FOR LARGE SCALE RESTORATION OF MARINE ECOLOGICAL AND ECONOMIC SERVICES IN SMALL ISLAND DEVELOPING STATES at the Side Event on Energy Services from Organic Waste – Integrated Waste Management Solutions for Coastal, Marine and Freshwater Protection in Small Island Developing States (SIDS), organized by the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE), SIDS DOCK, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Energy Programme, Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), South Pacific Regional Environmental Programme (SPREP), Government of Austria, & Government of Spain.

An extended version of this presentation can be seen at:

Old wine in new bottles, half truths, falsehoods, utter nonsense

Coral reef bleaching: More old wine in new bottles, half-truths, falsehoods, and utter nonsense
Yet another example of how old truths are ignored and distorted and outright fiction is generated and disseminated in the popular press about coral bleaching and global warming:

Coral Reefs Generate Half of Earth’s Oxygen — and They Could All Die Off by 2050
Dahr Jamail, Truthout: The second mass bleaching event in the last two years on the Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral ecosystem on Earth, is a sign of the new normal for global coral. The days of vibrant flourishing coral reefs — homes to the most diverse ecosystems on the planet — are over:

“One crucial function we do know we’re losing: While coral reefs only cover 0.0025 percent of the oceanic floor, absorb nearly one-third of the carbon dioxide generated from burning fossil fuels.”

1) Old wine in new bottles
Since 1989 we have been able to accurately predict mass bleaching events from Satellite Sea Surface Temperature data alone using the Goreau-Hayes HotSpot method assessing thermal anomaly intensity and duration (Goreau, 1990, Goreau & Hayes 1994, Goreau et al, 2000, 2005 a, b, c). The GBR events last year and this, and many, many more events not reported, are typical.

Peter Glynn correctly concluded the same based on the 1982-1983 bleaching in Panama and Galapagos. At first we thought there might be something exceptional about the thermal sensitivity of these unusual coral communities, but we soon found out that they were typical.

There has been no change in the bleaching thresholds for 35 years and therefore no signs of temperature adaptation or so-called “resilience”, however there are now far less corals left to bleach, especially those with the most sensitive symbiotic algae Symbiodinium species.

Nearly 30 years ago I warned the Australians that GBR corals would die when they reached these temperatures, but they deliberately chose to ignore and suppress the information (the details of this history are so complex that a book is needed to outline it).

Now suddenly all of this old knowledge is an “astonishing” “unexpected” “new” “discovery” that “nobody expected”!

All of this was known nearly 30 years ago, but ignored see:

Three decades of unnecessary accelerating coral death from bleaching has been directly caused by the deliberate and systematic denial and suppression of the scientific data on coral bleaching by the American and Australian governments, funding, and research institutions, and their efforts to confuse and obscure the causes for political reasons.

We’ve always said that the methods they use to identify coral decline were so poor that it was only when the last corals died in the GBR that they would admit the truth. Sadly, that is exactly what has happened. It could have been avoided if they had respected the science, instead of being driven by politics.

2) Half truths and falsehoods
The article ignores known solutions, especially the only method that saves corals from high temperatures when almost all around them die, Biorock electrical stimulation, which causes greatly increased coral (and all marine organism) settlement, growth, survival, resistance to temperature, pollution, and sediment stress, by directly stimulating their natural energy generating mechanisms:                         

The claim that the only thing we can do is emissions reductions is ridiculous, no amount of emissions reductions can remove the dangerous excess of CO2 in the atmosphere, only increased sinks can:

3) Outright fiction and utter nonsense
The claims that coral reefs provide half the oxygen in the atmosphere and bury one-third of fossil fuel emissions are utterly false!

These absolutely incredible and absurd falsehoods seem to be based on newspaper interviews with Australian scientists with no understanding of the carbon and oxygen cycles.
What is true in this article is that we are very close to the end for coral reefs, as we predicted nearly 30 years ago, a lot closer than they say, for most it is just a couple of years away, unless we have a huge high-sulfur volcanic eruption or a very big asteroid impact imminently.

Biorock electrical marine ecosystem restoration methods to restore coral reefs against global warming, shores against sea level rise, and regenerative development to reverse climate change are now our only hopes to sustain coral reef ecosystems in the future.

We remain committed to working directly with local island fishing communities in the Caribbean, Pacific, Indian Ocean, and Southeast Asia to help them restore their coral reefs, and not with those whose deceptions and obfuscation about the causes generated this crisis.

Coral Arks, Climate Strategy: Saving coral reefs in the short and long term

– Tom Goreau