John Roach –
A low-level electric current running through domed-shaped metallic structures in the waters off Bali is giving a jolt to coral reef survival there, according to news reports.
The Biorock technology is seen by some conservationists as a means to repair coral reefs damaged by years of destructive cyanide and dynamite fishing practices, as well as steadily warming oceans.
Warming oceans are a threat to the reefs since they result in more frequent episodes of coral bleaching, a phenomenon when higher temperatures cause photosynthetic algae that provide corals with food and color to leave, turning the corals white.
Without food for a sustained period of time, the corals will die. A coral bleaching event in 1998 killed one sixth of the world’s tropical reefs.
Biorock technology builds from the late German marine architect Wolf Hibertz’s discovery in the 1970s that electrified metallic structures cause dissolved minerals in the water to crystallize on them.
This grows “into a white limestone similar to that which naturally makes up coral reefs and tropical white sand beaches,” the Global Coral Reef Alliance explains.
Marine life including corals and oysters colonize this limestone. “Corals grow two to six times faster.
We are able to grow back reefs in a few years,” Thomas J. Goreau, a marine biologist who is leading the development of the technology, told AFP.
Goreau is president of the Global Coral Reef Alliance, a U.S.-based non-profit dedicated to the protection, preservation, and sustainable management of coral reefs.