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Will 3D Printed Coral Reefs Help Save the Marine Ecosystem?

by • March 16, 2016 • No Comments

16283588090_2edd0eeb80As a native Floridian (yes, they quite do exist) with a long family history in the Florida Keys, I am always interested to hear of any program being built to assist the massive issues surrounding our quickly disappearing coral reefs.

Did you know that these sizeable, rocky slabs of what appear to be white rock are in fact teeming with life? Resting atop the many layers of the calcium carbonate skeleton is another sizeable and living layer of coral polyps—necessary to the survival and propagation of the reefs.

Whilst many of us know the importance of coral reefs, a few may be quite surprised to find out just how quite crucial they are—and that information manufactures it all the additional heartbreaking to see injure being done to them as we humans go on our occupied work in terms of infrastructure, wastewater projects, beach nourishing and additional—not to mention the injure cautilized by boats, tourists touching and kicking coral with fins, as well as issues cautilized by completeing line and equipment.


A coral polyp

Bleaching is in addition a leading issue and cause of decline in coral reefs—brockyt of by mother nature herself when water temperatures are unusually warm for an unusually long period of time. Even if that’s just by a degree or two, it can have massive repercussions as it causes the coral to starve—and complete to flee. What’s left behind is a dismal, colorless graveyard—and no place for nurturing marine life whatsoat any time.

“We are already experiencing the longest global coral bleaching event at any time obassistd,” says Mark Eakin of NOAA—and the problem is expected to go on throcky following year.

It is awe-inspiring to ponder that these amazing ecosystems manufacture up such a tiny part of our world, at .0025 percent. But in the tiny amount of ocean floor that they cover, they provide a home to 25 percent of marine life. This manufactures them responsible for over $6.7 trillion of the yearly global economy. Not just that, but coral reefs are responsible for 17 percent of protein that is consumed around the world, and in areas like Fiji and the Maldives—as much as 70 percent.

We can’t control effortless events, but we can work on controlling the man-created ones—as well as creating methods to assist. And this is where innovation comes into play as 3D printed reefs are being added and examined for true efficacy. Today the just 3D printed reef is implanted in the Persian Gulf, sunk there in 2012. Fabricated in sandstone and of course created to appear real, it was placed in a coastal area off Bahrain as the just one 3D printed piece of coral one of 2,620 others, that were created of molded concrete. This project is all part of attempting to attract marine line back to overcompleteed and overpolluted areas, but scientists and others question what real great these artificial reefs can in fact do in the long run.

Only attracting a tiny percentage of specific complete, 3D printed and artificial reefs can in addition provide dwellings for algae, anemones, octopuses, and crabs—but the key is that if a 3D printed surface can attract free-floating baby coral polyps, they may one day start to cover the artificial surface itself, thus ‘growing.’ And if scientists see them working that successfully, additional may be implanted in the oceans.

Arabia-3D-Printed-Coarl-Reef-Top-537x358This concern is being well considered by many marine scientists, as well as the team of Reef Design Labs soon to release a new product. Their 3D printed coral is created with a porcelain coating that has indentations and a fabricated chemistry much additional like coral. The hope is that this can indeed attract baby coral polyps.

“They can bounce back of disruption. They can bounce back of mortality,” says Gabriel Grimsditch, the senior project officer at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, involved in the development of coral-reef management plans.

Historically, coral reefs have shown a few astounding resilience but growth takes an agonizingly long time to the tune of .02 to 8 inches per year, and it’s hoped that we can prod this along with 3D printing and delivering control of what in fact can be eliminated, like overcompleteing, infrastructure infringement, and additional. Some coral has been discovered to be additional adaptive than others in terms of temperature and acidity and this may be quite positive in the next for growth of those types.

We’ve followed other stories regarding 3D printed coral reef, being utilized not just to collect data but to allow for projects where the public can download files and print their own pieces, delivering public awareness to the issue—and that’s a massive way to assist with injure as well so that tourists know to watch out when boating, diving, and completeing.


An example of bleached coral on the Great Barrier Reef.

Because one coral is created of what can feasibly be thousands of polyps that land and plant themselves for life, it’s hoped that if they can indeed manufacture the 3D printed reefs alluring adequate, they can plant themselves and cover the fabricated surface, thus startning a colony—and a true new startning for a part of nature that is declined at a terrifying rate.

It is hoped that 3D printed reefs can contribute real alter and establish real growth along with assisting with issues due to carbon use of the world, as new constructions attract the floating polyps appearing for a home, but if not, the 3D prints and concrete pieces can indeed just assist as fake homes for marine life—and at very least they can be given additional of a accident.

“Let’s focus on the facts we can manage and assist reefs be additional resilient,” said Grimsditch. “If 3D printing assists, that’s great.”

Do you ponder innovation can be there answer here? Discuss in the 3D Printed Coral Reef forum over at 3DPB.com.

[Source: The Atlantic]