Recovering Coral Reefs : Returning Life to Sea



Nadia Habib
Partner and General Manager
Coralia Reef Environment Services
Website : www.coraliareef.com
Email: nadia.habib@coraliareef.com

Corals are an important part of the global ecosystem, specifically the marine ecosystem. They are threatened worldwide, as they are constantly exposed to aggression in several forms, including industrial pollution, maritime traffic, fishing activities, touristic activities, shoreline constructions, global warming, to name only a few.

Coral reefs are by definition (and by Nature) home for marine creatures, acting as a nursery for fish as well as being a food resource for higher food chain predators.

It is then our duty and conscience to preserve the existing wealth of corals, as well as to consider other solutions helping the propagation and increase of corals worldwide.

And why not? Integrate the concept of “Green” in the solution??

Therefore, the creation of Artificial “Natural” Coral Reefs, can simultaneously serve multiple purposes, i.e., environmental purpose by creating a full marine habitat and increasing fish biomass and biodiversity; and also it leads to new economic opportunities in term of Eco-tourism and real estate development as dedicated dive locations; also in replacement of damaged reefs. Last but not least; the Artificial Coral Reef is promoting preservation, propagation and ultimately the increase of corals worldwide.

With this vision in mind, an important and innovative study was undertaken, targeting several goals simultaneously:

  • Return Life to Sea
  • Reduce negative impact on the environment by using a naturally occurring product without need to reprocess it, thus not adding any CO2 or global warming causes. Even in small amounts, any step taken to reduce to carbon footprint is significant in the global perspective, and is an active participation in the “Green Concept”

3. Create complete marine habitats, in compensation of those damaged or destroyed or threatened

Steel Slag (a by-product of steel manufacturing process and the subject of the study) is used to regenerate and propagate the Coral Reefs, by offering a perfect substrate due to its natural physical properties, such as high density, rough surface, irregular shapes and sizes which provide a great interlocking system

and perfectly replicates the natural caches and caves needed for the settlement of fish and marine organisms.

A dedicated and highly motivated team of marine biologists and experts tested and studied over more than eight years (from 2008 and still ongoing) the effects and results of the transplantation, translocation (re-location) of corals (both healthy and damaged) on slag. Obviously, they also closely observed and monitored the effects on surrounding marine life and the whole marine habitat.

The studies were replicated at different geographical locations, under different circumstances each time: the results confirmed the success and the highly positive impact on the environment, in all the cases studied.

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) publications were made supporting the innovation, once in 2010 then again in 2015 when the use of slag was targeting the creation of fisheries, which are an important economic value added to the country income; with a high social impact on the quality of life of local fishermen communities as well.

With these encouraging results, this innovative method and technology was successfully applied in the United Arab Emirates; and is being currently under implementation in the Sultanate of Oman; where we are actively proposing different scenarios of Coral Reef Regeneration, to include a new concept for Visitor Centers at Nature Reserves and Marine Protected Areas, embellishment of Touristic Sites as an added value to the Real Estate, Marinas Projects, Fisheries Projects.

There are many excellent examples of coral reef recovery such as the Typical Pilot Study in Abu Dhabi in cooperation with the Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi (EAD); as well as the challenging creation of an Artificial Coral Reef in shallow waters in Hurghada, Red Sea of Egypt; at El Gouna Resort.

The “Green” Concept in those examples (and throughout the innovative methodology) is the use of only “unprocessed” material as they occur, taking advantage of their existing features and avoiding any reprocessing which will surely result in additional CO2 production and global repercussions, even in infinitesimal quantities..

One of the most important Targets is also raising awareness, mainly among the younger generation, thus we are addressing the Juniors and Kids, reaching out to them through different activities, exhibitions and workshops, documentation and more.

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