Peter van Treeck
van_treeck at uni-essen.de
Wed Apr 30 19:51:19 EDT 1997
Please find some more details about our SCORE concept as attachment.
SCORE is a concept about an UW park created by electrochemical
Main target is to offer substitute UW attractions for recreational
divers to mitigate the pressure on natural coral reefs.
Furthermore the accretion technology is suitable to restorate destroyed
coral reefs by offering a nature alike substrate (calcium carbonate) and
the option to transplant coral nubbins into this substrate while the
accretion process is in progress. I worked on that item since 5 years in
the northern Gulf of Aqaba (Red Sea).
Comment are welcome
So long Peter
Peter van Treeck,
Institute for Ecology/ Dept. Hydrobiology Phone: 0049 201 183 3112
University of Essen, 45117 Germany fax: 0049 201 183 2529
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save coral reefs
Artificial reefs as
substitute under water attractions
- a way to protect natural diving resources
Coral reefs, unnoticed and hardly accessible until a few decades ago, are currently subjected
to the increasing pressure off mass tourism in form of SCUBA diving. Even a kind intention and
sufficient training do not prevent damages done to the reefs in the fragile ?china-shop? of nature.
Every diver with a natural sense of responsibility and a certain degree of experience has to agree
that the expanding diving tourism has by far exceeded the ecologically bearable capacities at
Although a more sensitive handling of coral reefs as a resource is showing first results (e.g.
setting of permanent buoys, integration of ecological aspects in the training of divers), SCUBA
diving is still leaving its immense traces of ?overuse? in many reefs.
The dilemma of the restricted compatibility of nature conservation and personal and
commercial interests (which are comprehensible and justified), is forcing all the parties
concerned to undertake unconventional steps.
A way out could be the creation of artificial underwater parks. Marine biologists of the
University of Essen under the direction of Prof. Dr. Helmut Schuhmacher have developed a
concept for the installation of attractive recreation areas, based on long standing experiences
with artificial reefs. With the installation of appropriate structures in monotonous and
ecologically unobjectable regions (such as sand flats or already heavily destroyed areas),
attractive alternatives to genuine coral reefs could be created in many spots, being not only of
biological and aesthetic value but also fulfilling demands of SCUBA divers.
The interaction of designs particularly adapted to the needs of sport diving and the provision of
suitable colonisation surfaces will generate flourishing, self-growing structures which not only
meet the various claims of the diver but also become living space for many reef organisms.
The benefit of this concept is apparent in all mentioned sectors. Beside the direct profit for
nature conservation based on a reduction of the diving activity in genuine reefs, in the course of
time, positive effects are expected with regard to the recolonization aspects, the diving training
and the goals of environmental education. Well managed underwater parks can promote the idea
of ?smooth tourism?.
SCORE, the initiative developed in the Department of Hydrobiology of the University of
Essen, is currently seeking to establish a community of interests charged with the task of
bringing together ecologists, sponsors, representatives of SCUBA diving and civil authorities
and to attend a pilot project. People interested in the initiative are requested to get in to contact
Prof. Dr. Helmut Schuhmacher
Institute f. Ecology / Dpt. Hydrobiology
University of Essen / 45117 Essen
or Peter van Treeck
Fax 0201 183 2529
E-mail pvt at uni-essen.d
Scribbling paper for the use of artificial reefs as alternative -
underwater resorts for the activity of SCUBA diving
Coral reefs, being unnoticed and hardly accessible until a few decades ago, are, as a result of
expanding diving and mass tourism in the respective regions, exposed to an increasing pressure.
While in the past the main disturbance used to be a result of general pollution, input of sediments
and nutrients from agriculture and sewage influx, today?s diving tourism is becoming a main
stress factor at many places, most of them being of outstanding biological interest, and exceeds
by far all the others factors touching the effects on the fragile ecosystem.
In the last years, concepts against this trend have been elaborated (last not least by diving
associations), aiming at the improvement of the diving training as well as a general control of the
diving spot. On the one hand , these concepts were appropriate to slow down local damages, on
the other , however, they could not stop the "consumption" of genuine reefs. For that reason, the
actual situation is calling for new unconventional steps to fight against the damages caused by
mass diving tourism.
In principle, the maximum demand of reef ecologists and environmentalists to drastically reduce
tourism and to except areas which are to be particularly protected from the utilisation as diving
resources is justified, in many regions, however not feasible in many developing countries
depending on diving tourism as a source of revenue and due to a lack of alternative tourist
A way out of this dilemma could be the creation of artificial resort areas which are planned to be
installed at ecologically unobjectible places. With the aid of new technologies very diverse
landscapes can be created, meeting demands of divers as well as over all goals such as
environmental education and reconstruction concepts.
Construction of artificial reef structures by electrolysis
Using direct current at appropriately constructed electrodes, mineral compounds of the sea water
can be precipitated on the cathode. With this technique structures made out of metal or other
conductive materials become coated with carbonate minerals which represent an ideal
colonisation substrate for a variety of benthic organisms. Even stony corals can settle on this
substratum. Slight metal structures become reinforced by the approximately concrete hard
Chicken wire, the preferred material used for the required matrix, has the great advantage of
allowing a very flexible design. The power supply can be brought out independent from local
nets by using photovoltaic panels. Anodes, wires and temporary fixing elements can be reused
after finishing the electrochemical process. Except the wire matrix the building material is
genuine material from the ocean itself. Another advantage compared with conventional
constructions made of concrete or other long lasting building components our structures can , if
necessary, be redissolved by changing the electrical poles.
The University of Essen has conducted a series of investigations in the Red Sea and is currently
looking for competent partners for the realisation of a large pilot installation.
Concept for the realisation of a marine recreation park
Such a model is meant for allowing a variety of different applications. The following
possibilities present themselves: Recreation areas, training and environmental education;
corresponding installation should meet the demands of ecology, security, aesthetics. With this
broad background in mind it does not make much sense to develop a universally applicable unit
which can fulfil all demands only with several restraints. We suggest a concept divided into
modules which can be shaped and combined with each other in accordance with their specific
tasks. An installation of this type consists of a more or less flexible number of modules.
One can contrive the following modules:
Recreation module: spacious structure with the option of exploring it from inside and outside;
substantial design with different demands to the coordinate skills of the diver; creation of
different habitats for the spontaneous settlement of characteristic organisms in the corresponding
area (a middle-sized wreck would be best choice); should also aesthetically speaking represent
the main attraction of the whole installation.
Training module: the most abstracted of the modules; allows in an ideal way the education and
advanced training of SCUBA divers under impeded (difficult) conditions (platform for putting
on and taking of air tanks, direction station for orientation diving set in corresponding distances,
mobile objects for rescue diving exercises).
The training module is the central unit placed next to the buoy for the anchoring of the diving
boats (meeting station, ..) and is intended to be the entrance of the whole park.
The rehabilitation module is set for a natural integration of artificial elements in the genuine
setting of the coral reef. Opportunities for underwater photography and education in marine
sciences; attractive design, but, as distinguished from the recreation module, focusing on the
importance of the unit to be protected (with restricted access).
The Environmental education module could have the form of an underwater trail for pointing
out interesting phenomena; makes the diver familiar with the most important faunal and floral
elements; could function as a link between the single components of the installation.
The single modules are characterised by a graded proximity to the genuine resources. Those units
which are faced to a strong pressure are principally developed taking in account sportive features
(aspects); with increasing interest to realise plans in environmental education, the utilisation has
to be limited. The main objective is to create attractive and functional conditions for the different
aspects and needs of diving, concentrated on a small area. The SCUBA diver is asked to adapt
his activities to the local (prevailing) conditions and not -as we know from the past- the other
Beside the above mentioned advantages, the concept of modules offers the possibility for a
stepwise integration of additional elements into the main complex. The capacities required for
the installation are relatively small and can be used over a long period of time (reutilisation as far
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