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15 cool ways scientists are trying to protect coral

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Using 3D printing to create new coral reefs

Following in the footsteps of his ancestors, ocean conservationist Fabien Cousteau has been working with 3D printing to create, expand and restore coral reefs in a partnership with the Caribbean island resort of Harbour Village Bonaire.

Speaking to Boat International, Cousteau explained his choice of location: “The advantage Bonaire has is that it has a semblance of a healthy reef because of the protective measures that the government of Bonaire has installed decades ago.”

Made from calcium carbonate, these artificial reefs will closely mimic the shape, texture and chemical makeup of natural coral, with the aim of attracting free-floating polyps to take root and grow into new reefs.

“I think that we need to see this as one of many tools in the quiver in combating things like coral bleaching and acidification issues that are degrading our coral reefs in greater and at faster levels,” he added. “In our projects I hope that we’re able to print a billion coral structures in the long term.”

Similar trials have already begun in Monaco and the Persian Gulf and whilst it is too early to draw any definitive conclusions, the short-term data is encouraging.

Earlier this year, Fabien launched the Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Center, which will focus on raising awareness, creating educational material and running restoration programs for sea turtles and coral reefs.

Fabien is the grandson of underwater documentarian Jacques Cousteau, one of the most famous sea explorers who changed the world.

Pictures courtesy of Instagram.com / Fabien Cousteau OLC (left), Facebook.com / Fabien Cousteau OLC (top right) / Fabien Cousteau (bottom right)

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