Reef Revival

Just under two years ago we covered the innovative living sea wall made in a collaboration between Reef Design Lab, SIMS (Sydney Institute of Marine Science), the North Sydney Council, and Volvo where fifty hexagonal tiles were placed in an effort to help overcome the habitat loss caused by the removal of mangrove swamps along the coast. Now a similar approach is being taken to combat the destruction of coral reefs at Hong Kong’s Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park.

Home to 60 species of coral reefs as well as over a hundred species of fish, the Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park is a significant site of biodiversity. However, much like other reefs around the world, Hoi Ha Wan Bay’s coral reef population is diminishing. Not only are the reefs at risk due to bioerosion and coral bleaching, but also mass mortality events such as 2018’s super typhoon that damanged almost 80% of the parks coral reefs.

Although natural coral regeneration is possible, it could take decades even without damaging weather events or pollution slowing it down as even sand can cause harm and the reefs can struggle to anchor or support themselves. To combat this, a team of marine scientists and architects at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) have produced a series of complex 3D printed “reef tiles”.

By imitating Platygyra Brain Worm Coral the mass of lines and intricate surface texture of the tiles is specifically designed to help the coral attach itself, and to prevent damaging sedimentation. In total, 128 hexagonal tiles were created, each measuring 600mm across. They were 3D-printed from clay and fired at 1,125°C making them the first clay tiles to be 3D-printed.

Further ensuring diversity and the surival of the coral, each tile was seeded with local species of coral fragments (Acropora, Platygyra, and Pavona) and were then planted in three different sites in the Marine Park in July of 2020. Scientists will continue to observe and monitor the coral tiles for the next year and a half but already noted that 100% of the coral was still thriving after 2 months.


Read more about the project here.

A new post by Hanna Simpson, Diary of a Tile Addict, January 2021.

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