There is no doubt the growing coral reef destruction is causing a ripple effect with beach erosion on top of the loss of habitat and biodiversity of our oceans. We’ve seen some pretty interesting artificial coral reefs but Coral Arks has one of the more unique solutions using electrified metal structure to build an artificial reef that can grow faster and become more resilient to environmental strains than a normal reef.
These artificial reefs are created using metal Rebar to build a structure of electrically-conductive wire mesh, dubbed a Coral Ark, that is sunken or anchored to the seafloor and a floating solar panel provides a steady current of electricity. The electrically charged structure electrolyzes the saltwater causing calcium carbonate and magnesium hydroxide to form on the structure. The low voltage produced is safe for people coming into contact with the structure as well as marine life.
The Coral Arks produced by a company called Biorock, can produce growth up to 5cm a year as long as the current continues to grow. The Biorocks can be seeded with transplanted coral frags to aid in the growth. The electrical charge is known to grow three to five times faster than their normal growth rates. The electrolysis also significantly increases the coral’s resistance to environmental stresses like pollution and global warming (though these benefits are lost if the power ever cuts out).
As the structures grow, they start to resemble and act more like the natural reefs they are augmenting or replacing. The artificial reefs allow for more resistance to incoming waves to cut down on beach erosion as well as provide grounds for sustainable fisheries for oysters, clams or lobsters. The Biorock reefs also begin to attract more marine lifeforms extending the food chain and biodiversity of the area.
One example of the Biorock reef in action was when the Banyan Tree Ihuru Tourist Resort in the Maldives was experiencing a massive erosion of the entire beach. They to encircle the island resort in sandbags that failed as waves quickly shredded them. With the installation of Coral Arks along part of the seafloor, the beach grew back 50 ft. in two years. The resort is now planning to ring the island with more Coral Arks.