Undercover Reefs

Coral reefs are beautiful… but are they also a good place to eat?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Coral reefs act as grocery stores for marine life. The reef’s lacy structures allow local coral, fish, and invertebrates to exchange resources. But climate change is eroding reefs. How can we build them back up?

Enter Natalie Levy and colleagues at Bar-llan University.

They visited reefs around the globe, taking thousands of photographs. The photos became the building blocks for a three-dimensional model of each reef. Their image scanning algorithm made the models super accurate to their unique reef environment. 

Now! Pull out the 3D printer! Using a porous ceramic material, they printed a life size replica of a reef. They even mimicked its deepest inner tunnels.

The team is currently installing several of their 3D printed reefs throughout Israeli waters. They believe they could convince marine denizens to set up shop again! Artificial reefs could be the new oceanic Trader Joe’s.

Talk about faking it until you make it!

Reference: Levy, N., Berman, O., Yuval, M., Loya, Y., Treibitz, T., Tarazi, E., & Levy, O. (2022). Emerging 3D technologies for future reformation of coral reefs: Enhancing biodiversity using biomimetic structures based on designs by nature. Science of The Total Environment, 830, 154749.