Scientists and conservationists are beginning to utilize 3-D printers to help save the ocean’s coral reefs. Artificial reefs have been composed of everything from used tires, to retired ships to manufactured concrete structures, but up until now none have exactly replicated the structures of coral exoskeletons. Scientists believe that 3-D reefs may be less vulnerable to climate change than natural reefs. Experiments in reef colonization is occurring now in the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Persian Gulf, and Australia.
Fabien Cousteau, who began a 3-D reef project in Bonaire in January has this to say about 3-D printing reefs: “There is no silver bullet with coral restoration. You are talking about a very complex environment, a complex animal with a lot of variations with each subspecies. All of this is an experiment. In the short term, we’ve seen a lot of positive momentum with certain species of coral. But remember, this is a drop in the bucket in a very, very large ocean.”
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