[Coral-List] Re: Aesthetics of artificial reefs
reefball at reefball.com
Mon Mar 15 10:17:24 EST 2004
Hi Jessica, Quite a few questions so I will answer them within your message in CAPITAL LETTERS...WARNING TO LISTERS....LONG WINDED AND DETAILED ANSWERS BELOW AND THERE ARE DIRECT REFERENCES TO REEF BALLS WHICH WERE REQUIRED TO ANSWER JESSICA'S QUESTIONS)
----- Original Message -----
From: Jessica Tallman
To: reefball at reefball.com
Sent: Monday, March 15, 2004 8:28 AM
Subject: Aesthetics of artificial reefs
Thanks for your very informative reply to my coral list posting. I'm sorry I've been in the field since just after I wrote to coral list and I'm just getting to email now. There's been quite the artificial reef thread going on the list! I've been able to glean a bit about aesthetics from the responses. It seems that few efforts have been made to include both biological success and aesthetics in the goals of artificial reef projects. Projects are either primarily for the purpose of restoring damaged reefs, thus paying little attention to aesthetics, or for creating a dive site where nearly anything goes as long as it looks fabulous and is exciting to dive/snorkel around. I'm happy to see Reef Balls has allowed emphasis to be placed on both biological success and the enjoyment of the site by people. Aesthetic importance, of course, is dependent on people viewing the restoration site.
I'm having a hard time grasping just how many people visit the Antigua site. I realize it's a young project - has it become much of an attraction?
YES, THE PROJECT IS NOT EVEN COMPLETE YET AS THERE IS A SECOND PHASE (ANOTHER 2000 REEF BALLS) BEING CONSTRUCTED NOW. THE ISLAND IS SCHEDULED FOR "OPENING" AROUND CHRISTMAS 2005. THEREFORE, VISITORS AT PRESENT HAVE BEEN MAINLY RESTRICTED TO RESEARCHERS/MONITORS, LOCAL DIVERS/SNORKELERS, AND PEOPLE INVOLVED IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE REEF BALLS. GIVEN THE PROJECTS WE HAVE DONE IN THE PAST, WE DON'T EXPECT THE AESTHETICS FROM ALL THE "PLANTINGS" TO BE WELL DEVELOPED UNTIL AROUND OPENING TIME. PICTURES ON THE INTERNET NOW ARE PRIMARILY TO HELP DOCUMENT THE DEVELOPMENT STAGES.
Do you have any favorite photos of the "canyon like features" or "tall pinnacles" that you mentioned in your email? THE CANYONS ARE TWISTED AND BENT SO THERE IS NO REAL WAY TO GET A GOOD PHOTO OF THEM, YOU NEED TO EITHER DIVE/SNORKEL THEM OR YOU CAN GET A FEEL OF IT FROM THE AERIAL SHOT (http://www.reefball.com/map/antiguascience/windwardmonitoringkeyandtrailguide.jpg LOOK AT THE AREA MARKED IN YELLOW AS Y-CANYON PASS FOR EXAMPLE). THE PINNACLES ARE IN DEEPER WATER OUTSIDE OF THE BREAKWATER PROTECTION OF THE REEFBALLS SO THE VISIBILITY HAS NOT BEEN GOOD FOR PHOTOS YET (IT IS THE TRADEWIND TIME IN ANTIGUA) BUT THERE IS A VIDEO OF THE PINNACLES WHEN THEY WERE FIRST BUILT (Video of Newly Placed Pinnacle), (THIS IS ONE OF 3 PINNACLES)
If possible, I'd like to use them for the chapter. A before and after shot of Reef Balls would also be great.
YOU ARE WELCOMED TO USE ANY OF THE THOUSANDS OF PICTURES WE HAVE POSTED IN THE PHOTOGALLERY, BUT AS STATED, IT WILL BE A FEW YEARS BEFORE YOU COULD HAVE A TRUE "AFTER" SHOT, ALTHOUGH AS YOU CAN SEE, MANY ALREADY HAVE DEVELOPED STRIKING FOULING COMMUNITIES.
Have any of your clients been insistent upon the restoration site looking attractive immediately after an installation?
NEARLY EVERY CLIENT DESIRES THIS, BUT IF THE GOAL IS NATURAL AESTHETICS IT WILL TAKE TIME (THE TIME VARIES DRAMATICALLY BASED ON WATER CONDITIONS, FOR EXAMPLE TEMPERATE OR COLD WATER REEFS CAN DEVELOP IN A MATTER OF 6 MONTHS, WHEREAS CLEAR, TROPICAL CORAL REEF TYPE WATERS CAN TAKE 8-25 YEARS WITHOUT TRANSPLANTS OR 2-8 YEARS WITH TRANSPLANTS IF THE GOAL IS NATURAL LOOKING AESTHETICS. IF THE GOAL IS JUST FOR HUMAN AESTHETICS, WE HAVE HAD SOME CLIENTS THAT WANTED THIS AND HAVE DONE THINGS LIKE UNDERWATER SCULPTURE REEF BALLS. (SEE http://www.artificialreefs.org/Photogallery/cozsculp/cozsculp.html) FOR A SCULPTURE PARK WE CREATED. THE GOAL HERE WAS TO HAVE STRUCTURES THAT WERE IMMEDIATELY ATTRACTIVE FOR HUMANS, BUT LONGER TERM WOULD STILL DEVELOP AND FUNCTION AS A REEF MIMICKING ARTIFICIAL REEF SYSTEM
Are you able to cover the Reef Balls with corals (and algae? Not sure why you would do this.but I saw it in one of your photos) so that the artificial structure is well hidden? ONE OF THE GOALS OF THE TRANSPLANTING OF CORALS, LIVE ROCKS, ALGAE, SPONGES, ETC. IS SO THAT THE ARTIFICIAL REEF STRUCTURE BECOMES THE "BASE" OF THE REEF AND WILL EVENTUALLY NOT BEEN SEEN. MOST CORAL REEFS HAVE BASES MADE OF CORAL FOSSILS OR ROCK OUTCROPPINGS...ARTIFICIAL STRUCTURES IN A CORAL REEF ENVIRONMENT ARE BEST DESIGNED TO PERFORM THIS FUNCTION.
Would you say that you are placing corals on the Reef Balls to please viewers or does the coverage serve some other purpose (greater structure for fish, coral recruitment, a home for a rescued coral that might otherwise get lost in rubble). PLACING CORALS ON REEF BALLS CAN SERVE A VARIETY OF FUNCTIONS DEPENDING UPON THE PROJECT GOALS. FOLLOWING ARE SOME OF THE STATED GOALS FROM THIS AND PRIOR CORAL PROPAGATION PROJECTS.
1) TO REDUCE THE TIME IT TAKES FOR REEF BALLS TO "DEVELOP" INTO A REEFLIKE SYSTEM
2) TO SERVE AS AN EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES (LOCAL COMMUNITIES, SCHOOLS, ECOTOURISTS)
3) TO SERVE AS A GENETIC CORAL BANK TO HAVE A FUTURE SOURCE OF CORAL FRAGMENTS IN CASE OF AN ENVIRONMENTAL LOSS
4) FOR DOING SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH
5) TO CREATE COMPLEXITY TO INCREASE SURVIVAL OF LARVAL FISH
6) TO MAKE THE REEF ATTRACTIVE TO HUMANS MORE QUICKLY (SNORKELING, DIVING)
7) TO ESTABLISH CORALS IN AREAS WHERE WATER QUALITY WAS SUFFICIENT FOR ADULT CORALS BUT POOR ENOUGH TO INHIBIT MUCH OF THE NEW CORAL SETTLEMENT (THIS WAS IN AN AREA WHERE THEY WERE WORKING ON CLEANING UP WATER QUALITY...I.E. PAGO PAGO BAY IN AMERICAN SOMOA)
8) TO SELECT CORALS WITH SPECIFIC TRAITS (I.E. RESISTANCE TO SEDIMENTATION, POLLUTION, FASTER GROWTH RATES, ETC.)
9) TO BETTER BALANCE AN ARTIFICIAL REEF SYSTEM'S FOULING COMMUNITY DIVERSITY TO THAT OF NEARBY NATURAL REEFS
10) TO SAVE CORALS THAT WOULD OTHERWISE BE DESTROYED
11) AS MITIGATION
12) AS AN ECOTOURIST ACTIVITY
13) TO INCREASE FRICTION FORCES WITHIN A SUBMERGED BREAKWATER TO PROVIDE ADDITIONAL WAVE ATTENUATION FOR PROTECTION FROM EROSION.
14) TO ENHANCE AESTHETICS IN SPECIFIC AREAS (I.E. SNORKELING TRAILS)
15) AS A MEMORIAL EFFORT (ON ETERNAL REEF BALLS WWW.ETERNALREEFS.COM) SIMILAR TO PLANTING FLOWERS AT A GRAVESITE
16) TO SERVE AS A SOURCE FOR AQUACULTURED CORALS FOR THE AQUARIUM TRADE
17) TO INCREASE THE NUMBERS OF CORALS IN AN AREA (PRESUMABLY BECAUSE CORALS WERE LOST)
18) TO ENSURE GENETICALLY DIVERSE CORAL COLONIES OF THE SAME SPECIES ARE PHYSICALLY CLOSE TO INCREASE THE POTENTIAL GENETIC DIVERSITY OF LARVAL CORAL AFTER SEXUAL SPAWNING.
19) TO "COLORIZE" A REEF FOR HUMAN AESTHETICS (I.E. PLANTING COLOR SCHEMES MUCH AS LANDSCAPERS DO)
20) CORAL REEF RESTORATION EFFORTS (AS MANY CORAL LISTERS POINTED OUT, CURRENT TECHNOLOGY CANNOT "RESTORE" A REEF TO ITS ORIGINAL CONDITION)
SO AS YOU CAN SEE, THERE ARE MANY DIFFERENT REASONS (AND PROBABLY WILL BE LOTS MORE) OF WHY CLIENTS CONSIDER ADDING
Do you always use coral from surrounding areas or do you bring in coral that have been cultured?
OUR INTERNAL ETHICS SET BY OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS DO NOT ALLOW PLANTING CORALS THAT ARE MORE THAN 30 MILES FROM THE ORIGINAL SOURCE AS A WAY PROTECTING AGAINST INTRODUCING OUTSIDE GENETICS THAT WOULD NOT NATURALLY OCCUR AND TO LIMIT THE POSSIBLE SPREAD OF CORAL DISEASES/PREDATORS. THERE WAS ANOTHER COMPANY (I BELIEVE THEY ARE NO LONGER IN BUSINESS) CALLED APPLIED MARINE TECHNOLOGY THAT CULTURED CORALS IN DOMINICA AND TRANSPLANTED THEM ONTO REEF BALLS IN MYSTIC. (USING A DIFFERENT PLANTING TECHNIQUE) BUT THESE WERE SOFT CORALS. HOWEVER, BECAUSE WE NORMALLY USE ONLY PROPAGATED CORALS IN EFFECT ALL THE CORALS WE USE ARE BASICALLY "CULTURED" IN SITU.
When placing sponges on a Reef Ball do you take into consideration some of the damaging factors sponges have on some corals, perhaps by placing less competitive species of sponge and coral next to each other?
WE DO NOT TRANSPLANT SPECIES OF SPONGES KNOWN TO BE CORAL PREDATORS (AND, IN FACT, REMOVE THEM FROM PROPAGATES AS PART OF THE PROPAGATION PROCESS). HOWEVER, THERE ARE MANY COMPLEX INTERACTIONS GOING ON IN REEF SYSTEMS AND FOR THE MOST PART WE TRY TO PRACTICE PLANTINGS AS WE SEE THEM OCCURRING NATURALLY AND THEN ALLOWING THEM TO INTERACT. IF ONE PLANTING OVERGROWS ANOTHER ONE, THIS IS NOT NECESSARILY BAD...IT IS A NATURAL PROCESS THAT OCCURS DAILY ON THE REEF. SOME PRECAUTIONS WE DO TAKE IS NOT TO PLANT ANYTHING WITH A KNOWN DISEASE. ONE OF THE REASONS WE USE OUR FORMAL "REEF BALL FOUNDATION CORAL TEAM" (WHICH IS COMPOSED OF A GREAT VARIETY OF EXPERTS) IS TO HELP MAKE GOOD DECISIONS IN TERMS OF PLANTINGS (NOT THAT WE ARE PERFECT, BUT UTILIZING AS MUCH KNOWLEDGE AS WE CAN HELPS US TO MAKE LESS MISTAKES...JUST LIKE A FORESTRY SCIENCE, IT IS ALWAYS A DEVELOPING FIELD).
I read about Layer Cake Reef Balls. How many molding patterns do you have? THERE ARE 10 DIFFERENT SIZES OF REEF BALLS, (MODEL, OYSTER, LO-PRO, MINI-BAY, BAY, PALLET, REEF, ULTRA, SUPER AND GOLIATH) AND 20 DIFFERENT PATTERNS (STANDARD VOID, NATURAL ROCK LAYER CAKE, CONCH SHELL LAYER CAKE, STALACTITE PATTERN, STALAGMITE PATTERN, ROCK FILLED VOID, CONCH FILLED VOID, LOBSTER REEFCULTURE, SQUARE BASE, CONE BASE, COLUMN BASE, HOLLOW BOTTOM, SOLID BOTTOM, CONCH VOID BOTTOM , AGGREGATE EXPOSED SURFACE, SMOOTH SURFACE, HONEYCOMBED SURFACE, ROCK CROWNED TOP, CONCH CROWNED TOP, AGGREGATE CROWNED TOP) AND MANY MORE SPECIFIC OPTIONS (LOBSTER HOLES, OCTOPUS HOLES, INTERCONNECTED HOLES, PEPPERMINT CANDY HOLES, FOOTBALL HOLES, TEXTURE BALL HOLES, TETHER HOLES, POLYFORM HOLES, ANCHORING PILING HOLES, ANCHORING FIBERGLASS REBAR HOLES, WADDED NEWSPAPER HOLES, BLENNY HOLES, CORAL ADAPTER PLUG HOLES, PREDATOR EXCLUSION WEBBING, ETC. BECAUSE YOU CAN "MIX AND MATCH" HYBRID PATTERNS (I.E. HYBRID STANDARD VOID / LAYER CAKE) AND ADD ANY OF THE DIFFERENT SURFACE TEXTURES, HOLE STYLES, BASE STYLES AND TOP TREATMENTS...THERE ARE ESSENTIALLY ENDLESS COMBINATIONS OF HOW REEF BALLS CAN LOOK. ONE OF OUR BASIC MESSAGES TO REEF BUILDERS IS THAT IF YOU THINK YOU KNOW WHAT A REEF BALL IS, YOU PROBABLY DON'T...REEF BALLS ARE A DESIGNED SYSTEM....A SET OF RULES IF YOU WILL OF WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED SO FAR ABOUT HOW TO BEST BUILD ARTIFICIAL REEFS THAT ARE CONSTRAINED BY THE GOALS OF A PARTICULAR PROJECT. IF THE GOALS ARE AESTHETICS...THEN INCLUDING A WIDE RANGE OF REEF BALL TYPES WOULD CERTAINLY ENHANCE HUMAN APPEAL WITH OR WITHOUT CORAL TRANSPLANTS.
Another term I liked that you used is "aquascaping"-is that a real word? Seems appropriate.
THIS IS A TERM INTRODUCED TO OUR CORAL TEAMS BY JOHN WALCH (JOHN IS ONE OF THE LEADERS OF OUR CORAL TEAM) AND WHO HAS A BACKGROUND IN THE MARINE AQUARIUM TRADE. IN THE AQUARIUM TRADE, AQUASCAPING IS AN ARTFORM OF HOW ONE ARRANGES THE MARINE LIFE IN A TANK TO HAVE A NATURAL REEF LIKE APPEARANCE. IT TAKES INTO ACCOUNT THINGS LIKE WHICH LIFEFORMS ARE NOT COMPATIBLE WITH EACH OTHER IN ADDITION TO AESTHETICS. JOHN HAS TAUGHT OUR TEAM MEMBERS MANY OF THESE TECHNIQUES WHICH ARE USED TO GUIDE OUR PLANTING ACTIVITIES.
I also read that it is possible to add lighting to reef balls and also to create a blow hole effect. Have any of your sites incorporated these showy features yet?
NO, THESE IDEALS HAVE BEEN PROPOSED, BUT NOT YET DONE.
I've spoken with Michael Moore, President of Eco Reefs. He said the two of you had collaborated on some project(s) to come up with the best possible reef design for the particular site. Do you often work with Eco Reefs? Do you work with other artificial reef companies? YES, MICHAEL MOORE AND I HAVE COLLABORATED IN THE DESIGN OF ACROPORA MIMICS. IN FACT, ECO-REEFS WERE ORIGINALLY INCORPORATED INTO THE ANTIGUA MAIDEN ISLAND DESIGNS BY US EXCEPT THEY WERE UNABLE TO BE MANUFACTURED AND SHIPPED FROM CHINA IN THE TIMEFRAMES NEEDED FOR THAT PROJECT. ECO-REEFS IS A NEW COMPANY AND ONLY HAS 2 PROJECTS IN THE WATER SO FAR SO WE HAVE NOT YET HAD THE CHANCE TO WORK DIRECTLY ON A CONSTRUCTION PROJECT TOGETHER. WE HAVE ALSO COLLABORATED WITH THE GLOBAL CORAL REEF ALLIANCE (ACCRETION BY ELECTRICITY) AND HAVE DEVELOPED IDEAS FOR COMBINING REEF BALLS WITH ACCRETION TECHNIQUES TO GET OVER ONE OF THE PRIMARY DISADVANTAGES OF ACCRETED REEFS IN THAT THEY CAN BE UNSTABLE IN STORMS. WE HAVE ALSO COLLABORATED WITH HAROLD HUDSON OF NOAA WHOSE ORIGINAL IDEAS WERE USED IN DEVELOPING LAYER CAKE STYLE REEF BALL. IN ADDITIONAL TO DIRECT COLLABORATION WITH ARTIFICIAL REEF COMPANIES MUCH OF OUR DESIGN WORK IS IMITATED BY OTHER ARTIFICIAL REEF COMPANIES (SUCH AS ARTIFICIAL REEFS, INC.)
see an example reef restoration effort that included aesthetics. In
this effort was not limited by typical funding restraints. For the
we propagated more than 10,000 new (hard and soft) corals of the wide
of the local diversity, rescued and transplanted over 17 tons of adult
colonies from the path of a dredge, and used hundreds of varieties and
of prefabricated designed artificial reef units. The units were laid
with a great deal of attention to aesthetics including snorkeling and
trails, canyon like features, tall pinnacles, and the restoration
in an area where there where some natural coral heads which were fit
the reef design. Adding to the aesthetics, we are planting over 7,000
Mangroves near the restoration effort which will also serve as estuary
habitat. After the prefabricated reef units were planted with
and adult corals, the team undertook a large effort of aquascaping. We
planted various algae, sponges and other lifeforms much in the same way
aquarist plants an aquarium....with aesthetics (and biological goals)
mind. Because the area had been devastated by a hurricane, there were
several unstablized/loose "live rocks" in the restoration area which
become a threat during storm events, therefore as an additional effort,
these live rocks were attached to the designed artificial reef units.
In just 4 months, the reef system is a spectacular success. There has
a tremendous recovery of species and population densities. Many of the
coral propagates have doubled in size in just 4 months and are basing
correctly over the artificial reef units.
The aesthetics efforts also included reef layout from an aerial
The Reef was laid out to act as a physical barrier to boat traffic in
shallow seagrass areas and we are seeing an end to prop scars in the
seagrasses which adds further to the natural beauty of the restoration
effort. Additionally, the restoration effort including arrangement of
units to form a natural fringing coral reef to create a submerged
to protect the beach from erosion....another component of aesthetics.
To my knowledge there has never been such a complete restoration
in our case the project was done with less funding than most
efforts. All that said, I also agree with Curtis Kruer when he said
pretend a restoration effort can achieve total restoration is
So far, the Antigua project is the first in the world to prove that the
technology exists to get very close to a full restoration at a
price,...perhaps even better than natural reefs from some human
goals (aesthetics, beach protection, suitability for
snorkeling/diving)....but the only real way to "restore" a reef to its
natural state is to protect it before it is damaged. Marine reserved
are likely the only practical solution to achieve this goal and they
be able to protect reefs from wider threats such as global warming and
Reef Ball Foundation, Inc.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Jessica Tallman" <mailjtall at yahoo.com>
To: <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Sent: Friday, February 27, 2004 4:05 PM
Subject: [Coral-List] Reef Restoration Aesthetics
> Dear Coral List,
> I am also working on a section of Bill Precht's book on coral reef
restoration. I am writing an overview of the aesthetics of restoration.
Funding issues often limit the amount of attention that can be paid to
and biological success should be of utmost importance, however, is
much demand for an aesthetically pleasing dive site? I am wondering if
anyone has come up with solutions to aesthetics for the interim, before
reef is rehabilitated to a natural state. Please let me know of any
suggestions you have.
> Thank you,
> Jessica Tallman
> mailjtall at yahoo.com
> (781) 724-9014
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