Science 2 min read

Scientists Use 3D Printing to Rehabilitate Great Barrier Reef

Due to the effects of climate change, the Great Barrier Reef is experiencing widespread coral bleaching. Now, a team of researchers hopes to save the reef by using printed 3D structures.

superjoseph / Shutterstock.com

superjoseph / Shutterstock.com

U.K.-based BMT Group, in partnership with the University of Queensland, announced a new project that aims to boost coral growth in the Great Barrier Reef. The company plans to use 3D structures to rehabilitate damage reefs and restore fish populations.

The Great Barrier Reef contains more than 600 kinds of soft and hard coral spanning over 2,300 kilometers. It is home to numerous species of marine life and is one of the most important natural habitats on Earth.

Unfortunately, extreme weather conditions have taken a toll on the reef, causing coral death and bleaching. Over the last decade, the reef saw extensive coral bleaching, a phenomenon where corals excrete algae and turn white. Coral bleaching is largely caused by sudden changes in tides or ocean temperature.

3D Structures to Save the Great Barrier Reef

“The new proposed plan by BMT and UQ addresses the issue of dead and damaged coral accumulating at the bottom of the seabed, where it begins binding together and forming a foundation for new coral to take hold,” Tom Baldock, a professor at the University of Queensland’s School of Civil Engineering, said.

According to Baldock, BMT and UQ researchers will speed up the process of forming the new foundations by collecting dead coral and building new 3D structures out of it.

“These 3D artificial coral structures, often known in classic Australian fashion as “Bommies,” will not only act as a unique ‘buffer’ against cyclone wave damage but will also provide a stable base for new coral recruitment,” Baldock added.

Each bommie measures about 2m in diameter. The team plans to strategically place these within a trial area of the barrier reef to quicken its rehabilitation process.

The researchers believe that the 3D structures will offer an efficient framework for the reef to recover. If successful, they will begin implementing this rehabilitation process on a wider area of the reef.

Read More: Reef Design Lab Is Using 3D Printing To Save The Coral Reefs

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Rechelle Ann Fuertes

Rechelle is an SEO content producer, technical writer, researcher, social media manager, and visual artist. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with family and friends.

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