Reefs – sizes and shapes

DNA Sculpture at Puerto Cancun. photo by mikegerz.com, copyright 2011

Small or large, simple or complex, sculptures and forms can be any shape or size…each one becoming a unique living being, like you. Each one will grow with less human control than many artists or architects would like.  Some will bulge just where you wanted them to turn in, or will be settled by a coral variety that clashes in color with an adjacent species.  The unexpected and predictable wayward ways of biology and ecology are what make this work a true collaboration with nature.  It could be pruned and controlled, maybe it will need some interaction, but I like watching what the organisms do.

Coral Skirt. Pemuteran, Bali 2009

Coral Skirt

Coral Skirt, 5 months growth. photo by Rani E. Morrow-Wuigk copyright 2010

Coral Skirt, 2012

Coral Skirt. 2 yrs 8 months growth. photo by Komang Astika, 2012

Coral Skirt. 3 yrs 3 months. photo by Joey Ellis, 2013

For a more in-depth story about the making of the Coral Skirt, visit Biorock Bali Expedition 2009

I have said that if we can build a super highway, we can build a super reef.  And turns out, Wolf Hilbertz and Tom Goreau were planning such a feat to surround Ihuru in the Maldives to protect it from being pummeled and reclaimed by the lapping rising sea. Below is an example of an extended reef they installed along the coast of Helen Island (notice the dark band parallel to shore). I believe they used solar to power it. The structure is 150 feet (50m) long, 3 feet (1m) tall, 15 feet (5m wide).

The beach grew by 50 feet (15 m) seaward over 150 feet (50 m) of shore in 2 years.

Helen Island Biorock Reef structure

Apparently the water used to come right up to the palm trees and resort before the installation.  You can see how much sand there is now, all because the waves are slowed as they flow through the artificial reef structures that act as permeable breakwaters.  Natural coral reefs are permeable, too, since corals need current to flow through them to get their nutrients.  Sadly, the plan to create “the necklace” to encircle the island was never implemented, so sand bags and dredging continue as main attempts to stave off waves;  neither helps bio-diversity or has any real chance of forwarding life-supporting innovation.

Installation of the artificial reef. photo by Caspar Henderson or Wolf Hilbertz

This photo shows the  simple arches that grew limestone and corals to protect the shores of Helen Island.

Coral restoration is an act where practical meets beautiful meets resourceful meets viable meets doable meets valuable.

I wonder what this form will attract? It’s an extrovert in need of its introverted partner.

Extrovert model

"Extrovert" model in progress

"extrovert" model living sea sculpture

"Extrovert" small model in progress

"Extrovert" small model in progress

Looks taller this way

Perforated stainless represents where mild steel expanded metal mesh (EMM) will go.  The EMM should fill in faster with minerals creating visual interest and a denser substrate for organisms to attach to and colonize.

"Extrovert" - small model inspired by relaxed surface algorithm, 2012.

As we enter 2013, I want to say a positive word for the coral refuge in Cancun. During the year and half of waiting to install this piece,

DNA under a tarp at the deployment yard. The mesh is example of EMM. photo March 2012

I have learned alot about maintaining enthusiasm while gaining some reality checks about bureaucracy.  Being able to participate in the creation of living art for an underwater museum and a national marine park is exciting and challenging. Patience is with me as I keep the vision for installation this May or June.  May patience and kindness find you as 2013 flows in~~~