Can Electric Reefs be the Solution?

With every season that passes, our enticing coral reefs are suffering from an abundance of carbon dioxide and threats from warmer waters.

Man continues to wreak havoc by polluting our marine world.


One hard-working, non-profit organization is dedicated to growing, protecting and managing our most precious coral reefs. Global Coral Reef Alliance is taking major strides to try and nurse our reefs back to a healthier state.

This dedicated organization is made up of volunteer scientists, divers and environmentalists who all share a passion for preservation and a drive to revive the reefs.


To accomplish their goal, the Alliance takes a more complex approach.  It is known as the Biorock® Process, is owned by Biorock®, Inc. and is licensed to GCRA.  The process applies safe, low voltage electrical currents through seawater.  These recreations of artificial reefs are steel structures in the shape of domes and tunnels.  Once the current is applied, dissolved minerals begin to crystallize on the structure into hard white limestone similar to concrete. You might ask how they are powered.  The sources include renewable energy such as windmills, photovoltaic solar panels and tidal current generators.  Most of the time, having the ability to connect to conventional power is non-existent so creativity is a necessary part of the process.

Corals are instantly attracted to these structures and begin to flourish at outstanding rates, almost two to six times faster than their normal growth rate.  Through this artificial process, it almost makes the coral stronger to be able to cope with environmental stresses which include pollution, sedimentation and climate change.  There are other advantages such as increasing the fish population and enhancing ecotourism.  There is a good possibility that in areas where the experimentation has taken place, you will see a plentiful amount of crabs, clams, octopus, lobster and sea urchins.  Gorgonians, worms and crustaceans also are attracted to these artificial reefs. This, in turn, attracts more divers and snorkelers.

It is important to note that the electrical current must be maintained in order to stimulate the restoration process. It is not a one-time process. Biorock materials are thought to be structurally self-healing.  If a section becomes damaged, nature takes its course and the cracks fill and they serve the purpose of being breakwater shore protection and indirectly stop beach erosion.


Biorock technology is making huge waves these days protecting islands and coastal areas from erosion and rising sea levels.  You can find the process applied in the Maldives, Seychelles, Thailand, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Mexico, Panama and Saya de Malha Banks in the Indian Ocean, an area as remote as it gets.

The Global Coral Reef Alliance works in connection with foundations and governments or private firms to get the reefs constructed and then maintained.  It has stirred up curiosity in Jamaica and is now part of an experimental effort.  The Grand Turk Reef Project is also all about Biorock technology restoring reefs to their original beauty and natural state.

These “instant reefs” are one of the answers for a more promising underwater future but as with any project of this magnitude, it is essential to get increased funding and the support of the government so it can be implemented on a more global level.

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