Coral reefs existed at the time of the dinosaurs, the ice age and have survived numerous environmental changes but… will they manage to do so in the 21st century? Many are disappearing, although we have already seen the archiREEF initiative, this time the Aquatic Animal Medical Research Center of Excellence (VMARCE) at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand has created Innovareef, a project to build 3D printed replicas of corals that will accelerate the establishment, growth and recovery of these coral reefs. The reefs are found in all the world’s oceans, in Spain, although they are less known, we find the Menorca Channel, Galicia Bank, Medes Islands, Doñana and Banco de la Concepción northeast of Lanzarote.

Coral reefs are not rocks or plants, they are animals, in particular zooids or polyps. They play a great role in marine ecosystems, apart from serving as a habitat for 25% of marine species, reefs protect our coasts from erosion, from the force of the waves. Humans depend on them, a large number of species of fish live, breed, feed, in addition to being a source of income in the tourism, fishing and medicine sectors since they are used as a source for pharmaceuticals.

But why are these rainforests disappearing?

Some of the problems that affect their disappearance or their bleaching (as its name indicates, it is the loss of color, which implies a mortality of the corals, therefore a change in the fish communities) are: climate change such as changes in temperature , pollution, too much sunlight, destructive, excessive fishing practices… These factors cause the destruction of reefs, for example the Coral Triangle in the Philippines known as the most valuable treasure of marine diversity on the planet has almost 1,800 species of fish.

“The team has gone through stages of designing, molding, creating irregular surfaces, casting branches separately, as well as carrying out vortex, base subsidence and tidal resistance tests, both in our laboratory and at sea. , before having the Innovareef resistant to tides, robust, which does not sink into the sand, with small vortices around it and branches to improve the natural settlements of the planula.”

What are these Innovareef structures like?

They are replicas created from concrete, it will be a three-module system that will serve as a refuge for coral larvae or also known as planulae. These 3D printed concrete replicas will already be coated with calcium phosphate, an element necessary for them to grow. In 2020 they installed several groups of Innovareefs off the coast of Chonburi and Thailand and achieved faster growth of the reefs, between 3 and 4 centimeters per year. But the benefits of the results are not only there and it is that it will also provide a place to live for fish and molluscs among others. The best thing is that they have placed sensors that allow monitoring of tidal forces, the beings that take refuge, water temperature, acidity.

With initiatives such as Innovareef, it is possible to restore the seabed, as with this project to build 3D printed coral replicas. If you want to know more about the news, you can do it HERE. What do you think of this Innovareef initiative? Leave your comments on our social networks: Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and RSS. Follow all the information about 3D printing in our weekly Newsletter.