The first coral reef fisheries habitat and restoration project in America - using a novel technolology called Biorock to speed
up coral growth and survivial and create shelter for fish populations - has just been installed in exclusively in Lauderdale by the
Sea! This will create a new attraction for divers and snorkelers in the town renowned as the 'Shore Dive Capital of Florida'.
pilot project, which will make the town the leader in coral reef restoration in Florida, has taken several years to get all the
permits and approvals needed from a host of county, state and federal agencies. It will be located south of the fishing
pier and Lauderdale-by-the-Sea snorkel trail.
What will be visible from the shore will be two buoys covered with solar panels
which will use sunlight to provide a completely safe low voltage trickle charge to six tunnel like open mesh steel structures on the
sea floor below. The trickle charge will completely prevent any rusting of the steel and cause the slow growth of solid limestone
rock over the structures. limestone is the natural mineral that makes up coral skeletons, reefs, tropical white sand beaches
and most of Florida. Limestone is naturally dissolved in the ocean but does not spontaneously grow out of the water. The
electrical charge causes it to grow over charged metal surfaces similar to the way that corals use energy to make their skeletons
from naturally dissolved chemicals in the sea.
The ingenious Biorock process mimics the natural growth of coral reefs and was
invented by a pioneering architect, the late Professor Wolf Hilbertz in the 1970's, as a way of growing natural building materials
in the sea. Limestone has been used for construction since the pyramids of ancient Egypt. In the 1980's Hilbertz
began working with Dr. Thomas Goreau, a coral reef specialist, to
use the process to restore coral reefs. They and their students
have built hundreds of Biorock coral reef and oyster reef
restoration projects in more than 20 countries. They found that
corals on these structures grow typically two to six times faster
than normal and have sixteen to fifty times higher survival
following severe high temperature episodes, events that have
become more frequent in the last 20 years as the global warming
impacts of rising atmospheric CO2 begin to be felt.
Furthermore, they find that large schools of fish, especially juveniles,
are attracted to them. As a result, Biorock reefs have kept corals alive in places where they would have died and allowed
new reefs to be grown back in a few years in damaged areas where no natural recovery have taken place.
Only a handful of
the oldest divers now remember the wonderful coral reef that used to stretch along Broward, Dade, and Palm Beach counties, where they
would swim among forests of corals grabbing lobsters and conch and spearing big fish. Those habitats have alsmost entirely vanished. That
is why this approach is so badly needed in Southeast Florida.
It has been seven years since I made the first presentation for
this reef restoration project before the LBTS Commission. I
introduced Dr. Thomas Goreau from Coral Reef Alliance. At that
Dr. Goreau presented an impressive slide show that
captivated the audience. It was so impressive that the
Commission unanimously decided that this would be a viable
for our threatened reefs. One year later, Global Coral
Reef Alliance was awarded a contract to proeceed with the
project the first of its kind in America. It has been my
pleasure to have contributed to the project through my years as the liasion between Dr. Goreau and the town of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea
Commission. I pledge my continuing support for this unique and important environmental restoration project.