Given the level of systematic abuse coral reefs have sustained over the last few decades, helping to rehabilitate them by administering - in essence - a form of shock treatment hardly seems like a good idea. Yet that is the technique Thomas Goreau, a scientist and one of the originators of the "Bio-Rock" project, has been using to help restore the once lush coral reefs off Bali in Indonesia.
The brainchild of Goreau and Wolf Hilbertz, the late architect, the "Bio-Rock" project consists of setting up dozens of metal structures fed by cables bringing low-voltage electricity around coral reefs. Zapping the reefs has helped restore and, in some cases, spur their growth, Goreau claims. Before Hilbertz passed away, the duo had managed to set up similar projects in close to 20 countries around the world.
The electricity helps jump-start the corals' healing process by facilitating the aggregation of limestone - a key building component of reefs - on the metal structures. Once enough limestone gathers in one area, divers can affix fragments of live coral from damaged reefs to the structures. The reefs in Bali have responded very well to the shock therapy - with their renewed growth once again attracting a variety of fish and other organisms.
The main challenge Goreau has encountered so far is a severe lack of funding. Many have criticized the efforts as being too limited in scope, a problem Goreau readily acknowledges - though he is quick to point out that additional funding could give him the seed money to replicate the project on other threatened reefs. He is hoping to gain some financial backing at the UN Conference this week after he presents the results of his work.
"Under these conditions, traditional (revival) methods fail. Our method is the only one that speeds coral growth," Goreau said. To read more about another successful project Goreau recently undertook at the Turks & Caicos Islands, head on over here. Also, check out a video explaining the "Bio-Rock" process in more depth here.
Via ::National Geographic News: Electricity Revives Bali Coral Reefs (news website)