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3D Printed Coral Reefs Installed Off Monaco Coast

3Ders reports on an update to a story a few years in the making.

Coral reefs sustain 25% of the world’s marine life.  That is a staggering amount of biodiversity.  However, climate change threatens to deal a blow to that biodiversity.  “Since the 1980s, approximately half the Earth’s coral reefs have died, with that number steadily on the rise.  Two years ago, scientists observed the third-ever global bleaching of coral reefs, in what has been called the largest coral destruction in history.”

That’s where scientists at Monaco’s marine-protected Larvatto Bay comes in.  Back in 2015, they unveiled plans for six new 3D printed coral reefs “in an effort to restore the area’s biodiversity.”

Well, now those 3D printed coral reefs have been printed and installed along the ocean floor.  “The massive reef structures, which measure 1.2 X 2 meters each, weigh a hefty 2,500 kilograms, and required 13+ hours of 3D printing time.”  They “were manufactured by Dutch maritime company Boskalis and supported by Monaco’s Prince Albert II Foundation.  These impressive structures were constructed from Dolomite sand and volcanic ash.”

Divers from the Monaco Association for the Protection of Nature began the underwater installation by “using balloons to buoy the units in their steel transport cage.  Once the structures were towed by boat to their final locations [along the bay], divers deflated the balloons, lowering the units gently down to the seabed.  After being safely placed on the ocean floor, the protective transport cages were removed, signaling the beginning of an extensive monitoring period.”

Boskalis Environmental Engineer Astrid Kramer is clearly excited: “we are really creating new horizons here.  It is fantastic to work with such a multidisciplinary team with people from so many different disciplines, from industrial designers to local specialists.  The world around us is changing and I think this symbolizes how a modern project should be.  It won’t be just the reefs that gain from this valuable knowledge, it can be applied to other fields as well.  This initiative combines both environmental benefits and those of the business.”

“Boskalis intends to share this data with the scientific community, so we can increase our knowledge in this pioneering area.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of 3Ders

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