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  • Writer's pictureEmily Higgins

August 2021: Protecting the World's Coasts from Erosion & Sea Level Rise

IntelliReefs has set up their new global office at the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE) in Halifax, Nova Scotia to aid in the restoration of kelp forests, oyster beds, and complex temperate marine ecosystems that protect shorelines.


Published August 12, 2021

Director of Ocean Science and IntelliReefs CAN Co-Founder Emily Higgins has made landfall in Halifax, Nova Scotia to set up IntelliReefs' new Canadian office at the Centre for Ocean Ventures & Entrepreneurship (COVE). This new venture will kick off with a coastal resilience and habitat restoration project in the Halifax Harbour.

For the past two weeks, the IntelliReefs CAN Team has been on the ground and underwater in Nova Scotia with local academic and industry partners to conduct initial site surveys and set the wheels in motion for this flagship Canadian IntelliReefs project. As the company's first endeavour in temperate waters, the scientific results from the large-scale deployment off the coast of COVE will inform the ongoing development of region and site-specific restoration and marine infrastructure solutions in Canada and abroad. IntelliReefs is currently casting a novel coastal resilience system engineered for kelp forest and oyster bed restoration in temperate waters.

IntelliReefs CAN's mission is to turn grey infrastructure "blue", creating a conservation opportunity within what has traditionally been a highly unsustainable industry. The cement industry has a massive carbon footprint and is the third highest carbon dioxide (CO2) contributor in the world, annually contributing about 8% of global emissions.

Thriving ocean systems demand a diverse set of habitat requirements, and the physical properties of regular cement substrates cannot accommodate these marine organism needs. IntelliReefs has developed Oceanite, a biomimicking and bioenhancing nanomaterial substrate that can be used to replace concrete, or can be used to armour or retrofit existing marine infrastructure.

IntelliReefs is focusing on providing nature-based solutions to storm protection, erosion, economic and food security in 2021. They are harnessing and enhancing the best practices used by nature, designing building materials from the nanoscale up that use the same minerals that coral reefs are made of. IntelliReefs’ blue barriers are also designed to mimic natural reef formations, protecting coastlines, building beaches, reducing flooding, self-healing, and cleaning water with minimal maintenance.

IntelliReefs' Oceanite artificial reefs in tropical ecosystems have been found to enhance biodiversity, accelerate the attraction and growth of reef-building species (e.g. coral, shellfish, etc.), and increase fish populations through the provision of additional food and shelter.

Caribbean IntelliReefs off the coast of Philipsburg, Sint Maarten are thriving after just over 2 years underwater. The tropical Oceanite artificial reefs are home to biodiverse coral communities that feed and house local fish.

Much like in tropical regions around the world, habitat-building species in temperate regions are suffering from the effects of climate change. Kelp forests are productive, biodiverse, and biomass-dense ecosystems on the planet and provide food, nutrients, and habitat for commercially important fisheries. Kelp forests have been shown to dissipate wave force and protect coastal populations from storms. IntelliReefs has now expanded their international research program to include kelp bed and shellfish restoration.

Nova Scotia has lost 85-99% of their kelp forest biomass over the past 4-6 decades, putting fisheries and livelihoods in jeopardy. IntelliReefs CAN is developing a new method for restoring kelp and shellfish communities using temperate Oceanite nanotechnology artificial reefs with international restoration non-profit, Reef Life Foundation, and researchers from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. IntelliReefs aims to build living coastlines on underwater infrastructure (harbours, jetties, seawalls, etc.) by attracting biodiverse and productive marine ecosystems to better mitigate erosion and sea level rise in the face of climate change. Living seawalls and eco-engineered shorelines have been shown to dissipate wave force between 60-97% more effectively [1] than traditional hard infrastructure.

Dive In with IntelliReefs and Reef Life Foundation Today!

Early this fall, IntelliReefs CAN will deploy the first kelp restoration IntelliReefs in Halifax, and you can get involved! Please visit Reef Life Foundation's GlobalGiving fundraiser to donate to this ongoing research and innovation project today by purchasing a kelp restoration garden for yourself, a loved one, or your company.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Follow IntelliReefs online:

Instagram: @intellireefs

Facebook: @IntelliReefs.Sustainable.Marine.Solutions

Additional Links for Media:

High resolution photos are available upon request.

About IntelliReefs:

IntelliReefs are innovative reef restoration systems; the result of breakthroughs in science and nanotechnology, these engineered structures mimic established coral reefs to build an oceanic infrastructure that improves resistance to climate stressors and diseases.

IntelliReefs is a division of Reef Life Restoration, LLC with 20 years of earned experience in advanced materials, manufacturing methods and delivering custom projects, using scientific research, and architectural innovation to offer high performance marine restoration systems designed from nano to industrial scale.


[1] Salauddin, M., O’Sullivan, J. J., Abolfathi, S., & Pearson, J. M. (2021). Eco-Engineering of Seawalls—An Opportunity for Enhanced Climate Resilience From Increased Topographic Complexity. Frontiers in Marine Science, 8, 628.

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