As a short-term solution to reverse the detrimental effects of coral bleaching to coral reefs, Dutch maritime services company Boskalis and Monaco-based Prince Albert II Foundation have created 3D-printed coral reefs that can preserve existing ecosystems and allow marine life to thrive. Six of these were placed at the Larvotto Marine Reserve – and it has proven to be effective once submerged 27 meters below the water’s surface. They were printed with actual sand from the Dolomites rather than the usual concrete in order to better mimic natural formations. Compared to the concrete-based creations, marine life adapted quicker to the sand-based artificial coral reefs. Each 3D-printed coral reef measures 1.2 x 2 meters and weighs 2.5 tons.
With hope for ocean life restored, Philippe Mondielli of the foundation shares that “the goal is for biodiversity in these waters to appropriate the reefs and colonize them as they do in nature.” The two parties believe that their creation is an innovative device for marine restoration and improvement, and they plan to “duplicate the experience” in other sites in the future. The creation of 3D-printed coral reefs is just one small but necessary step in saving marine biodiversity, as immediate and strong action is still needed in order for coral reefs to be completely restored.