A Good News Story: How Biorock is Rebuilding our Reefs

14th August 2013   |   Jackie Hutchings

I met Paul on Twitter.  For anyone who tells me that Twitter is a waste of time, I tell them about the wonderful people I now know but have never actually met. The people who have made a difference to me and how they’ve enriched my world. But I’m veering off topic….  Paul hails from South London and is a responsible diver. He regularly alerts me to interesting ideas and content for which I’m eternally grateful. And that’s how I was introduced to BioRock.

Biorock is a way of restoring coral reefs. Electrical charges are passed through the Biorock structure and this stimulates coral to grow but, rather than try to explain it in more detail, here is what Paul wrote to me while he was diving in Bali:

Historically, this area (we happen to be in north Bali but it is common across the region) has suffered really badly from dynamite fishing and the use of cyanide. They have discovered that by running a small charge through metal they can speed up coral growth by at least a factor of four.  Initially it was just metal frames, but then they realised the value of novelty shapes and the fish didn’t care.  It is very close to the shore and at a maximum depth of about 6 metres before the bottom drops away and I have just snorkelled over it.  It would also be a superb place to learn to dive as there’s plenty of sand in between.  The various shapes include a collection of bikes, a manta ray, a metal statue of a Balinese goddess of good luck, a few fish and all sorts of other less identifiable things.

For about $50, you can have your name made out of metal and wired to one of the frames (that’s the reference to dolphin on my certificate) and once a year they take a photo and email it to you so you can see the coral growing over your name.

The local people can see the commercial as well as environmental benefits and are rightly very proud of it.  Fishing is banned and well policed.

For me the really nice thing was to be able to see a virtually immaculate reef.  No damage at all. They have planted as much variety as they can get to grow and it’s all good but in some places it is superb.  It is full of thousands of little fish of all colours and types so it is doing what it is meant to do, but I have also just seen a shoal of batfish in the deeper part hanging there being cleaned by a couple of cleaner wrasse.  That quite made my day.  I also saw a lone barracuda and yesterday a shoal of 1000+ one-spot snappers.

I am enormously impressed, as you can probably tell.  It is such a treat to hear such a good news story about coral reefs that are taking such a hammering in so many places.

After I read this, I sponsored them too.  If you’ve been inspired by Paul’s story, why not do the same?  Our oceans give us all so much; we take everything they have to offer; they are our future.  There’s never been a better time to give something back.

A Few Facts about Biorock

Corals growing on Biorock:

  • Grow 3-5 times faster than normal.
  • Heal more than 20 times faster.
  • Survive high temperatures 16-50 times more.
  • Have hundreds of times more baby coral settlement
  • Biorock reefs attract incredible numbers of fish.
  • Biorock reefs can be quickly restored where they can’t recover naturally.
  • Fishermen can grow reefs and greatly increase fish and shellfish populations and catches, becoming farmers instead of hunters.
  • Breakwaters can be built for a fraction of the price of concrete or stone, with vastly greater environmental benefits.

If you want to know more, take a look at Biorock Pemuteran Bay, Bali.

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