NEW HOPE FOR A CRITICAL ECOSYSTEM
A life-sustaining system under attack from human activity
Coral reefs carry some of the most diverse ecosystems in the world and provide thousands of marine species a natural ocean habitat. They support fisheries, protect shorelines and play a critical role in the economy of coastal communities. Over the past 50 years, humans have put an enormous amount of pressure on coral reef environments. Nearly 30% of monitored reefs have been lost, and if the trajectory isn’t quickly changed, 60% of these reefs will be lost in the next few decades. Climate change, ocean acidification, and increased levels of carbon dioxide are rapidly destroying existing coral reefs and preventing new growth.
UTILIZING 3D-PRINTING TECHNOLOGY
TO HELP RESTORE CORAL REEF ECOSYSTEMS
Fabien and The Ocean Learning Center (FCOLC) have led a number of projects to protect and restore the world's coral reefs, ultimately saving 15,000 corals in Florida, the Caribbean and the Maldives.
The FCOLC will continue this work involving "c-garden" restoration and is currently in the initial stages of implementing the use of 3D technology to aid in the restoration of reefs utilizing unique organic materials. The program will have an initial focus in Curacao and then will be brought to other coastal locations globally.
Restoration often involves introducing foreign material such as cement, plastics and rebar into the ecosystem. The decay of such material poses additional ill threats to those systems. We believe that coral polyps, zooxanthellae, and algae are more likely to adhere to organic material that more closely resembles natural reefs, thus increasing their potential to mature and maintain sustainability.
FCOLC will use 3D technology to print structures that will serve as a base for transplanting corals from c-garden nurseries. This innovative process of sculpting and printing coral structures will offer new hope for this critical ecosystem.
The FCOLC is partnering with the Marine Foundation to bring together marine science and art to develop innovative, underwater sculpture installations near the coastal region of Curaçao.
The Marine Foundation focuses on engaging art for change - not only in awareness and education, but also directly on the restoration of coral reef habitats, fish stocks, and associated provision of livelihood, successfully connecting local communities to enable sustainable governance of our marine resources.
The partnership will form a marine garden sanctuary made up of several symbolic “ocean sentinels” that will create both a thriving underwater ecosystem and an eco-tourism destination with an outstanding art attraction. The artificial reefs (living sculptures in the sea) featuring 3D printed tiles and components, will be carefully positioned in selected locations within the marine protected areas of Curaçao’s waters.
The combination of 3D technology and art will help to regenerate degraded marine environments and the surrounding economy by speeding up recovery of coral reefs while creating an interesting tourist attraction especially for snorkelers and divers.
THE YEMAYA SEA GARDEN
MARINE RESTORATION TECHNOLOGY MEETS GROUND-BREAKING ART
According to Celia Gregory, Director and Founder of The Marine Foundation, living sculptures in the sea are constructed reef structures that create a novel, positive and engaging mechanism for highlighting and amplifying more sustainable management of our seas. Gregory states, ”Their design with 3D printed tile embellishment will assist coral reef restoration by providing a solid substrate for corals to settle and a hiding place for fish that will help replenish fish stocks.”
KEY GOALS OF THE PROGRAM
Produce world-class sculpture art with components of 3D printing that serves as an artificial reef, providing habitats for marine life
Create financially and ecologically viable in-water visitor attractions over an extended period
Provide sustainable livelihoods in fisheries, management and tourism
Help preserve the marine protected areas (MPAs) around the artwork
Educate visitors and locals to 3D technology being used in marine restoration and enable participation in solutions to environmental issues
Encourage local and global artists to get involved and contribute
Bring sustained media interest in marine conservation, both locally and internationally
EDUCATION AT THE CORE
In addition to creating a healthier environment for sea life, core to this program is the educational component. Our team is dedicated to protecting and preserving the world’s coral ecosystems through education, research, collaboration, advocacy, and empowerment. Youth need to have a vital role in the success of any restoration program. By empowering young, ocean ambassadors they will carry on the message to family and friends about the importance of protecting natural ecosystems. Today’s youth are social influencers; instilling a love for the ocean in them will result in a lifetime of advocacy and stewardship.
The FCOLC is dedicated to involving youth in the program in a variety of ways. Educational resources developed by award winning educators will allow students to gain an understanding of the restoration program and the ecosystem itself. Mentors within the program will demonstrate the restoration process both live and virtually and answer questions during regular sessions to show program progress. Day camps will offer hands-on engagement. An exhibit plans to feature a holographic experience is also being discussed which will allow all ages and all skill levels the ability to immerse themselves in the project.