National Geographic says that as much as 1/8 of the people in the world rely on fishing for income and food. The fish comes from the coral reefs and there are about 100 countries that enjoy recreational benefits from reefs. This brings about $12 billion in tourism dollars yearly. Climate change has raised ocean temperatures leading to coral bleaching. It is for this reason that scientists are working on various ways of regenerating reefs. The plan is to use a sub optimal strategy of dumping tires into the ocean in their millions in order to create many artificial reefs.
On the Gili Islands, scientists are using electricity and chemistry underwater, sparking new life where reefs are concerned. They create metal frames and zap them with an electrical current that is weak, thus creating an artificial reef.
Photo credit: Karang Lestari
Biorock Technology is what The Gili Eco Trust is using to grow a substance that looks like limestone underwater. It is made of magnesium hydroxide and calcium carbonate. They have put one hundred and twenty metal frames underwater in shapes that are whimsical such as a motorcycle. The cost for each of these is $2,200. A weak electrical current is passed through the frame and through the process of electrolysis the limestone minerals in the water are pulled out and attached to the metal frame. They then create a synthetic marine skeleton.
The good thing is that that current does not affect humans or marine life. Divers are also able to pick up coral that has been injured and put it on the frame. It is said that such corals heal twenty times faster and chances of survival are fifty times more. When the coral has healed it is moved back to the reef.
Photo credit: Karang Lestari
The main challenge with Biorock frames is how to power them. The issue is energy. It does not make sense from an environmental point of view to burn fossil fuels in order to address the problem of rising ocean temperatures. You would be increasing one problem in a bid to solve another. It would be best to find a solution that is a win-win on all sides.
Currently, the frames have to be placed close to the shore and they must remain small. Those who install them have considered the use of solar panels and have even deployed them on barges to be an alternative source of energy. Unfortunately, the panels are stolen quite often. One solution to consider in the future may be tidal turbines placed underwater.
How You Can Help?
Our charity partner The Karang Lestari Foundation has made its mark by creating a program that restores and conserves coral reef. This program is the largest of its kind in the world. By restoring reefs that have been damaged, marine life is coming back and the fish stocks have increased in various small communities along the coasts of Lombok and Bali. You can support Karang Lestari while supporting other good cause charities in Bali by donating on our website: www.gardenof.life