Here at Papua Explorers, we are pleased to announce that we are about to begin a very special project; in order to restore a degraded area of reef located near the resort, we are going to construct an artificial reef.
In order to restore this area, our resident marine scientist Arno, and a team of 3 locals, Tomi, Yermi and Rio, will be building a series underwater structures at the site. The team will then transplant coral ‘seedlings’ onto these structures, which will then act as the foundation for the seedlings to grow and eventually re-establish a healthy reef system.
The structures, inspired by traditional Papuan jetties (some of which have extra-ordinary marine life growing underneath!), are expected to recreate a rich and biodiverse habitat, with an abundance with coral and fish. Ideally, these structures will also create many micro-habitats and ecological niches that will also attract the incredible macro life Raja Ampat has to offer. Within 3-5 years we anticipate that the structures will be covered completely with various species of coral, and aggregations of fish and other life that can be seen on thriving reefs elsewhere in Raja Ampat.
This project will also be used as an educational platform for locals and guests, to help raise awareness about coral reefs, their growth, diversity and importance within all marine systems. Additionally, this project will serve as the basis of a pilot study to evaluate the feasibility of a larger scale reef restoration project on a sizeable and damaged reef nearby.
With a significant amount of preparation work already completed (see pictures below!), Tommi, Yermi & Rio are spending this month in Labuan Bajo, Flores, completing training with artificial reef experts, Coral Guardian – a non-profit organization dedicated to coral reef conservation. Throughout the training period, Tommi, Yermi & Rio will learn skills including coral ecology and transplantation skills, and how to raise awareness and collect data amongst local fishing communities. Upon return they will work with Arno to establish the project, plant the corals and monitor and maintain the reef structures, as well as work with local communities and resort guests to provide information about the project, and education regarding coral reef systems.
We very much look forward to commencing this project, and contributing to reef conservation and maintenance within Raja Ampat. We will share our progress with you along the way, and we hope that within a few years time we are able to showcase a magnificent and thriving reef that will amaze and educate!
Stay tuned for updates, and thankyou for your support and interest!
The Story So Far…
So far one structure has been built (see below), which required the team to combine their diving skills with some construction skills – with an exceptionally large hammer needed! Built from ‘kayu gatal’, a special wood that sinks in water and decays extremely slowly, the structure follows a simple table like design, with a steel grid attached on top. The coral seedlings will be transplanted onto the grid, and over time will cover the structure entirely.