Our coral reefs are diminishing and it is a great cause o concern among out researchers and environmentalists. Due to the commercial activities in and around the ocean, these coral reefs are eventually degrading. Though humans have been trying to create artificial coral reefs since years, 3D printing makes this task easier and improved as the 3D prints mimic the hard corals very well.
Kirsten Marhevar, a marine biologist explains that little reefs are attracted to corals that are white or pink in color as they signify healthy corals. Moreover, the corals that have ridges, crevices, and many grooves are the ones preferred by these baby reef polyps.
Teams in Monaco and Bahrain are engaged in creating pastel-colored corals with sandstone and the neutral pH of sandstone attracts the baby corals. The reef design lab is preparing a model of porcelain coated reefs which will replicate the coral reefs even better.
Bleaching is another destructive factor for the reefs. It happens due to high temperatures where all marine life flees from the reefs leaving them lifeless and unfit for habitation. This problem seems to be increasing due to environment conditions and hence the need for coral prototyping arises even more.
Coral reefs house 25% of marine life, and their depletion could be fatal for marine life. A large part of the economy and about 17% of protein is supplied by marine life. For island nations, this is a bigger concern.
One single sandstone coral reef exists in the Persian Gulf, which was sunk in 2012 in a coastal area around Bahrain, among 200 other natural coral reefs.
More and more 3D printed coral reefs will be sunk in the ocean in an effort to attract the coral reefs to settle on them and thereby preserve marine life.