[Coral-List] coral restoration using electrical currents

Ari Spenhoff ari_spenhoff at yahoo.de
Wed Mar 23 08:27:40 EST 2005

Dear Margaret Pizer, Iain Macdonald and listers,
as the two most experienced experts on reef
restoration aided by electrical current, Dr. Thomas
Goreau and Wolf Hilbertz, are both currently on field
trips, were they most likely have no internet access,
I might be able to provide some initial information.
(I am writing on behalf of Deep-Scape – a group of
German Land- and Seascape architects, whose aim is
promoting sustainable tourism strategies.)
In the beginning of our reef rehabilitation efforts,
we used common techniques of attaching broken coral
fragments to hard substrate by gluing, tying or
cementing them in situ and/or flow-through tanks.
In 2002 we abandoned these methods in favour of the
Mineral Accretion Technology (or Biorock-Technology)
and are hence supporting its wider application.
To our knowledge, it is the only field tested and
viable solution which allows corals to better resist
several environmental stressors – like temporarily
elevated sea temperatures. A likely explanation for
the phenomenon is that the electric current lowers the
acidity of the surrounding seawater, allowing
dissolved limestone to crystallize and be used for
coral skeleton growth. Under natural conditions, coral
polyps must expend their own energy to create these

Iain Macdonald raises several important issues:

“Why not just leave the coral where you found it?”
- You should only transplant broken coral fragments
(e.g. from anchor sites) which would otherwise have a
very limited chance of survival. This means leaving
any bigger pieces in favour of the smaller ones. In
many places, collecting these fragments alone is
yielding a sadly rich harvest – thus making it
unnecessary to fragment previously reared
‘donor-corals’ (we are NOT in support of this!). The
elevated pH-level close to the Biorock structures has
proven to result in 3-5 times enhanced growth rates
and up to more than 20 times faster healing. This
means the smaller pieces quickly develop and there is
no need to go for the initial show effect of the
bigger ones.

“Are such structures capable of sustaining the
physical battering of 1 in 100 year storms? If not is
there any point in placing such "temporary"
restoration means.”
- There are many options for building the conductive
frames, ranging from low cost ones to stabilize blast
damaged rubble and increase growth rates of remaining
corals, to larger structures that create habitat for
fish and corals, and create ecotourism attractions,
fisheries restoration, and shore protection. But
regardless of the design you choose, your structures
serve their purpose, and even if it turns out that
your design didn’t meet the conditions to last
forever, they played their role as stepping stones
needed for reefs’ resilience. By the way, the
structures in the Maldives were unharmed by the

I’m sorry, I can not provide information to your
inquiry regarding scientific papers other than those
found at the (non-profit organization) Global Coral
Reef Alliance website (www.globalcoral.org). But I
know there is one paper in press (or translation) from
an Indonesian researcher dealing with enhanced growth
rates etc.. The author is Putra Nyoman Dwija from
Bagian Mikrobiologi, Fakultas Kedokteran, Universitas

If you have more questions you can email me directly
at: ari_spenhoff at yahoo.de

Best wishes and good luck with the article,
Ari Spenhoff

Message: 5
Date: Tue, 22 Mar 2005 16:52:56 -0500
From: "Jim Hendee" <Jim.Hendee at noaa.gov>
Subject: [Coral-List] coral restoration using
electrical currents
To: coral-list <coral-list at aoml.noaa.gov>
Message-ID: <424093B8.7080808 at noaa.gov>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1;

Here's another forwarded one for Margaret, who
apparently has a Systems 
Administrator who likes to forward messages through
Ketama, Morocco.  
I've been saving these up for a rainy day, so please
don't ask me to 
forward messages for you if you are in any kind of
hurry.  Also, please 
do not respond to me.  Thank you.

coral restoration using electrical currents
Margaret Pizer <margaretpizer at yahoo.com>
Tue, 22 Mar 2005 11:26:38 -0800

coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov

I'm researching a story for a conservation magazine
and would like 
expert opinions about the reef restoration methods
described in the 
following news article:

"Jolts of electricity revive damaged coral reef"

Is this method proven? Are there any peer-reviewed
articles out or in 
the works about it? Is it practical and cost
effective? Have similar 
things been tried before? Any other comments would be
welcome and can 
sent to me either on- or off-list.

Margaret Pizer


Message: 6
Date: Wed, 23 Mar 2005 05:20:52 +0000 (GMT)
From: Iain Macdonald <dr_iamacdonald at yahoo.co.uk>
Subject: [Coral-List] coral restoration using
electrical currents
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov,
margaretpizer at yahoo.com,
	hilbertz at emirates.net.ae
<20050323052052.55437.qmail at web25306.mail.ukl.yahoo.com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1

This issue has cropped up here in Qatar, unfortunately
i have missed 
both presentations by Wolf Hilbertz but i would
certainly like to know if 
there are any publications relating to this topic. One
of my immediate 
worries about such "BIOROCK" methods for restoring
reefs is that they 
transplant corals onto their metal framework. Why not
just leave the 
coral where you found it? Areas in need of restoration
need all the live 
coral to remain alive. Are such structures capable of
sustaining the 
physical battering of 1 in 100 year storms? If not is
there any point in 
placing such "temporary" restoration means.
After visiting a potentially related website
www.biorock.net you can 
find some references but whether this is a real means
for restoring the 
worlds coral reefs is open to interpretation. If it is
i hope they will 
be in Spain for the ASLO meeting. 
The global coral reef alliance also has some


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