The Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire has been at the forefront of the movement to preserve and restore coral reefs in the region, most notably through programs to plant new coral.
Now, the island is taking the lead to help the region’s threatened reefs in a new way: by 3D printing coral reefs.
A partnership between ocean preservationist Fabien Cousteau and the island’s Harbour Village Beach Club will be bringing the technology to Bonaire.
The 3D printed reefs will have the same shape, texture and chemical makeup that attract free floating baby coral polyps.
By creating a lush, colorful coral garden, they will help sustain other aquatic life like algae, anemones, octopi and crab.
“We are pleased to use advanced knowledge of prominent sea issues to make Bonaire an example for the Caribbean and other areas of the world,” said Eric Ewoldt, Executive Director of Harbour Village. “We know 3D printing efforts have worked in Monaco and the Gulf States among others. With the development of our Ocean Learning Center, now is the perfect time to launch this technology in Bonaire.”
The exact locations for the project have not yet been determined.
The 3D printing will occur on island through the Harbour Village’s Ocean Learning Center, a research think tank with programming for guests.
“3D printed corals can generate real change and establish real growth for reefs, one of the key attractions for visitors and divers alike in Bonaire,” said Cousteau. “This technology is less labor-intensive than current coral restoration processes, creating a larger impact in a shorter amount of time.”