The world’s largest 3-D printed reef was submerged on Saturday (11 August) at Summer Island Maldives, in what is hoped could be a new technology-driven method to help coral reefs survive a warming climate.
The artificial reef, assembled with hundreds of ceramic and concrete modules, was submerged at Summer Island’s ‘Blue Lagoon’ — a sandy part of the lagoon, where the resort hopes to create a new coral reef ecosystem.
The experiment was aimed at increasing their resilience and longevity against the ongoing environmental rampage. The ceramic structures built closely resemble the original structures found in the Maldives. Ceramic itself is made of calcium carbonate, the same inert substance that occurs in abundance in corals.
Bleaching poses the most potent danger to corals, which used to abound in the Pacific Ocean and color its waters in different hues. With imminent threats like increasing temperatures of water bodies and disposal of chemical wastes in oceans, 3D printing technology is hoped to offer a safety net for corals, for posterity.
The technology allows mimicking the complexity of natural reef structures, so as to design artificial reefs that closely resemble those found in nature. This will be a more effective way of growing and restoring corals.
The Maldives is one of the world’s most climate-vulnerable nations. Rising sea temperatures pose a grave threat to the world’s coral reefs, and mass bleaching events are becoming more common and more severe.
Summer Island Maldives has implemented a number of recent environmental initiatives, including the adoption of solar energy, a ban on the use of plastic straws, phasing out imported drinking water, and coral conservation projects.