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Rapid animal settlement

Rapid animal settlement

RAPID ANIMAL SETTLEMENT

A Race Against Climate Change

Attracting and Retaining Vital Coral Communities

In the last five years, we have seen mass coral bleaching events affect reefs worldwide. With the increasing frequency of these devastating events since the 1980s, coral reefs are struggling to recover before the next environmental stressor reduces biodiversity and coral cover. Globally, it is estimated that we have already lost nearly 30% of our coral reefs on earth since the 1970s (NASA), and we are projected to lose another 30% in the next 30 years.

UN initiatives (SDG 14) and global coral reef restoration organizations and alliances are racing against climate change in a rapidly deteriorating ocean to revitalize, restore, and protect vital marine ecosystems. Reefs continue to degrade each year due to warming and rising seas, ocean acidification, overfishing, coastal runoff, and marine development. Unless immediate and drastic action is taken, we will see the end of coral reefs in our lifetime.

To optimize our efforts and prevent this from happening, the Coral Reef Rescue Initiative has created a short list of seven ecologically significant coral reefs that represent 70% of all reef cover on Earth as a strategic regeneration initiative. By pooling our conservation efforts and fully protecting these seven reefs, we will be able to preserve and revitalize what we have left.

The reefs (Cuba, Tanzania, Madagascar, Philippines, Indonesia, Solomon Islands, and Fiji) were chosen based on targeted conservation criteria: likelihood of avoiding the brunt of the most serious environmental threats (warming, acidification, etc.), climate-resiliency, global species representation, and total area. If these vital reefs can be effectively protected, they will serve as refugia for coral reef species.

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In these areas and for many other restoration initiatives around the world, speed of recovery is paramount. Implementing restoration and revitalization programs that promote fast development of healthy coral communities is a necessary component of fast-tracking the ongoing preservation of reef systems.

Even the healthiest reefs that exist today have felt the effects of climate change and other anthropogenic stressors and will need to be strengthened as quickly as possible to withstand the increasing frequency of storms, rising ocean temperatures and sea levels, and continued acidification.

IntelliReefs' strategic plan moving forward is to quickly build resilience and safeguard against biodiversity and habitat loss on reefs.

To address this, we plan to deploy bio-mimicking nanotech artificial habitats on high-priority reefs around the world to quickly create additional, healthy substrates for biodiverse animal settlement, to allow for landscape management of coral populations - including using IntelliReefs as "stepping stones" to create migration corridors - and to provide additional substrate for capturing wild coral spawn.

IntelliReefs are made from Oceanite, which is a proprietary mineral mixture that has specific bio-compatibility and bio-mimicry attributes that can be tailored for required chemical composition and pH. IntelliReefs scientists work on diverse mineral and nanoparticle compounds compatible for coral growth within our marine cell matrices. This allows for targeting of species, function, and site specific conservation goals by engineering the desired micro- and macro-structures using colour, porosity, and mineral mixtures. Oceanite is also designed for durability and strength, and is the only sustainable marine substrate on the market that can withstand harsh oceanic conditions for hundreds of years.

Photos of rapid biodiverse growth of a healthy, early stage coral community on IntelliReefs in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten.

These attributes create a synergistic effect on the resulting community, quickly attracting and retaining desired reef species. The result is the creation of additional, healthy reef communities that can function as a biofilter, supply food for marine life and humans, and bolster source populations of corals and other reef-building organisms to help recovering reefs repopulate natural areas when necessary.

Time is truly the most important factor for coral restoration initiatives around the globe. We cannot afford to put sub-par technology in the water any longer.

The current alternative marine substrates (Portland cement, 3D printed materials, metal, ceramic, plastic) used for habitat-building projects are harmful to reef communities through toxicity and high pH values, are too costly, and cannot be scaled up to an ecologically relevant level. The time has come for global agreement on coral habitat restoration standards and international collaboration to protect high-priority coral reefs. IntelliReefs' interdisciplinary team dedicated to working with local conservation groups and global policy makers to create large-scale, sustainable reef habitats that help mitigate environmental and human stressors on natural reefs.

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© Reef Life Restoration, LLC 2020

Reef Life Foundation supports coral science research globally with reef revitalization, protection & coral restoration. 

 With the Gift A Reef Campaignevery purchase or donation goes to support coral reef conservation beginning with The Nature Foundation SXM in Sint Maarten.