Rebuilding the Ocean's Infrastructure
Updated: Aug 7, 2020
Reefs are a literal life support — algae housed by reef structures produces 90% of our oxygen. This explains federal mandates for coral protection like the 2008 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Compensatory Mitigation Rule. But reportedly, these mandates have been hard to enforce. And with the EPA now on the chopping block, coral protections may cease to exist altogether. What better time for private sector innovations to step in to address the loss of this crucial life support?
So far, attempts to rebuild lost reef structure have been poorly conceived, according to Melody Brenna, CEO and co-founder of Reef Life Restoration. “People have tried sinking ships, throwing used tires or concrete in the ocean,” she said. “Solutions didn’t come from science. They came from convenience.”
Rather than sinking ships, Brenna and her team have been working on building casts that mimic the complex structure and growth compositions of natural coral reefs. She describes their work as restoring “the ocean’s bone structure,” reminding us that reefs are made of the same calcium carbonate as human bones.
Reef Life Restoration has been in the design and testing process for years. Guyon Brenna, Melody’s son, designed his first set of 3D reef models in high school. Now a 23 year old architecture student, Guyon has patented the only reef acreage system with biocompatible coral cell surface textures and diverse mineral formulations.
Three months ago, divers and marine biology students with the University of Hawaii planted sensitive coral polyps the size of poppy seeds using the reef modules they have created. It will take a year of monitoring the gestating polyps before they will know whether the latest experiment has been a success.
Jennie Rose, an incredible writer and Clean Tech researcher wrote this for Australian Publication: Lateral Magazine: