The Human Role in Coral Reef Conservation: Artificial Reef Creation

This is the second of a five-part series discussing the importance and future of ocean reef systems. If you missed it, check out the previous article.

The health of coral reefs worldwide is in jeopardy, as we learned from yesterday’s article. But action is being taken in the way of reformation where natural reefs have been destroyed, and preservative methods to ensure a less-impacted or healthy reef can sustain and encourage growth.

There are many locations across the globe that are creatively addressing the loss of reefs by building artificial structures that will attract the necessary components for a reef ecosystem. Although there is some controversy in regard to the intentional placement of foreign items in the sea, many of these artificial reefs have succeeded in propagating new life.

One of the issues contested by conservation groups is the pollution that can result from some materials’ degradation in seawater. This concern arises from the deliberate sinking of decommissioned oil tankers, automobiles, and rail cars. While this is a valid point, there are actually strict regulations imposed on artificial reef creation of any kind, including special permits, inspection to confirm suitability and proper sanitization, location, long term monitoring, and the safety of marine life, anglers, and divers. Disregarding these rules can result in hefty fines and imprisonment. The quality and sustainability of the reef is of utmost importance.

There is a significant advantage to using metal structures as the base for an artificial reef: the use of electric current to stimulate rapid regeneration. When mild electric current is applied to the structure, a chemical reaction occurs that creates a limestone coating which the coral are extremely attracted to. Continued use of the current can promote coral growth up to 5 times faster than reefs without it, making rehabilitation possible even in polluted waters. This accelerated propagation encourages coral to grow in the areas surrounding the artificial reefs as well.

Most of these projects have enjoyed tremendous success. In tomorrow’s article we will cover some of the best examples of artificial reef creation.

Continue reading about coral reef conservation ideas and implementation!

 

 

 

Photos via prilfishArmy Environmental Commanddoug.deep


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