You may find yourself wondering: what is an eco-reef and what exactly does it do? Eco-reefs are man-made reef-like modules that encourage natural reef growth and provide a basis for long-term habitats for marine organisms. The goal in creating them is to enhance or reclaim coastal developments that have been damaged by human habitation, marine preserves that work to sustain and research marine life, and environmental impact zones recovering from disasters. In addition, companies that produce and install eco-reefs strive to do so in a safe and environmentally-conscious manner that will augment rather than disrupt the delicate ecosystems into which they are placed.
Some of the services offered by companies that produce eco-reefs include design of synthetic reefs, culturing and transplantation of living reefs and other marine life, long-term observation and maintenance to ensure successful growth, and project management from start to finish. But what makes eco-reefs better than Mother Nature? For starters, reefs that have been compromised in some way are notoriously difficult to re-grow. When the reef is gone, the life that colonized it disappears and is commonly replaced by algae. So even if the conditions are right for new reef to grow, it is unlikely that it can survive long enough to overcome rapid growth of algae or avoid being swept away by currents or damaged by sifting sand. Eco-reefs combat these issues by slowing the flow of abrasive sand while small colonies of fish are introduced to consume the encroaching algae. This process starts with the installation of ceramic bases that provide a clean surface to promote reef growth without any ecological impact to the surrounding environment, making it both productive and environmentally safe.
In addition to being ecologically sound, eco-reefs are both aesthetically pleasing and logistically manufactured. The ceramic modules are not only an ideal base for growing coral, they are also chemically inert in seawater and completely non-toxic, ensuring that they won’t further unbalance an already strained ecosystem. And their looks aren’t too shabby, either.
Individual units are created to mimic the structure of native coral reef and are strategically placed to emulate natural growth so that as the living reef spreads on and around them, they won’t stick out like a sore thumb, but will gradually fade into the background as the habitat resumes a natural order. In this way, marine life re-entering the territory will not be scared away by obtrusive man-made structures, thereby allowing a flawless re-integration of species that previously inhabited the area. Finally, these man-made reefs are lightweight, portable, and easy to assemble, cutting down on the cost of both transportation and expensive and cumbersome equipment at the site, not to mention the complexity of installation.
In short, eco-reefs are facilitating the re-institution of life into areas that have, for one reason or another, suffered an ecological loss. And they are doing so in a way that is both cost-effective, easy to implement, and safe for the environment. Companies that provide this service have taken a holistic approach to employing man-made solutions in ecologically sensitive situations in an attempt to both heal some of the damage that man has wrought upon the environment as well as prevent future loss of viable marine habitat.