Coral Growing Sculptures

Over the weekend I found many interesting articles about the decline of coral reefs throughout the oceans and the people who are finding ways to re-grow the corals that humans have damaged. Of particular interest was a TED blog post about an artist named Colleen Flanigan and her Kickstarter campaign so I figured we’d share it here at Aquarium Tip Tank.

Colleen is an artist…a metalworker…a welder…a sculptor who was inspired by architect Wolf Hilbertz, who developed Biorock®. Biorock® is a mineral accretion technique for growing coral reefs. Biorock® uses a process by which low-voltage direct current is run through metal that is in seawater. The electrolysis that takes places attracts minerals such as calcium carbonate (the skeleton mineral of stony corals) and a very hard mineral surface is deposited  on the metal framework. If coral polyps can use less energy creating their skeleton to live in, then they can spend more of their energy and resources growing and reproducing.

All of this just sent my brain storming with ideas and questions. I hope Ken Nedimyer and the Coral Restoration Foundation know about this technique. Could they use it to do what they’re doing? Have they already implemented this technique? The issue for underwater coral nurseries may be the power source for the low-voltage direct current. Many of the Biorock schematics seem to have a solar panel above the surface of the water that provides the necessary power. This type of system would mean that the coral nursery would not only be underwater, but also above water.

We could also possibly implement this technique inland, not only in our own home Aquarium tanks, but also in some of the coral nurseries that are set up on land to be sheltered from the storms. Why not grow corals on land and then transplant them to the ocean to rebuild our declining coral reefs?

I may give the technique a shot in the saltwater aquarium that I am working on setting up. If I do, I will do it on a very small scale and very early in my Aquarium’s life so that I don’t mess up and shock a fish. For now, I’m going to head over to Kickstarter and leave a donation. You should too. It looks like they need some help for a good cause and any donation helps!

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