Last week, the world’s largest 3D-printed reef was installed at Summer Island Maldives resort in what experts hope is a new way for coral reefs to survive climate change.
According to Maldives Tourism, the artificial reef was constructed with hundreds of pieces of ceramic and concrete modules before being placed in the island’s sandy Blue Lagoon area. The resort hopes this will aid an authentic reef in growth.
The reef is situated near the resort’s current coral nursery in about seven metres of water. To further foster growth, small pieces of the nursery are transplanted to the artificial structure.
“3-D printing technology helps us to develop more innovative ways of protecting coral reefs. The technology allows us to mimic the complexity of natural reef structures, so we can design artificial reefs that closely resemble those found in nature. We hope this will be a more effective way of growing and restoring corals,” said Alex Goad, founder and creative director, Reef Design Lab, Melbourne, Australia.
Summer Island Resort hopes the artificial coral reef will be grown over with living coral within a few years. The thriving environment would bring more varied fish and marine life to the area.
Artificial reefs are only the most recent change the resort makes in the name of environmental sustainability. A transition to solar power, ban on plastic straws and stopping the practice of importing drinking water all lend to environmental sustainability.
“Projects like the 3-D printed reef are popular among guests, who like that we protect our environment. And it’s not only for the guests. Our staff, most of whom are Maldivian, want to protect their environment too. Ultimately, we want to help promote a culture of environmental stewardship, not just at Summer Island, but across the Maldives,” said Mari Shareef, resort manager, Summer Island.
The artificial reef is the result of 24 hours of 3D printing, filling 220 ceramic moulds.
Will these efforts make you more likely to visit the Maldives? How do you feel about the process of using artificial reefs to foster new growth? Tell us. Email us at [email protected]. Please include your full name and location.
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