Coral reefs have been seeing steady declines since the Industrial Revolution set the wheels of climate change into motion. As atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have risen over the past several decades, global warming and the acidification of our planet’s oceans has put the future of coral reefs into question. I work as a reef conservationist and artificial reef sculptor with the New Heaven Reef Conservation Program in Koh Tao, Thailand. In the Gulf of Thailand, myself and a group of marine biologists and naturalists are working to restore and expand these highly threatened ecosystems. Even though coral reefs cover only 0.1% of the ocean floor they manage to support 25% of all marine life. If nothing is done to slow the decline of these crucial and biodiverse ecosystems then we may lose them forever along with all the life they help sustain.
These artificial reef sculptures are a way of drawing much needed attention to the unseen plight of coral reefs across the globe. Construction on these projects is already underway, but further funding is needed for it to see completion. 7 sculptures have been submerged to date and naturally fragmented corals that were at risk of dying were transplanted onto their surfaces, providing them with a more stable habitat on which to grow and thrive. See the project video for the construction of the sculpture garden’s first concept, The Colony. I want to continue to expand this existing project to attract divers off of the natural reef while also creating a new habitat for marine life in an area where there was little supported before. Even though the project has only just begun, the site is quickly becoming the home to a wide variety of different aquatic organisms.
I have many new and exciting concepts for this project and work has already begun on the sculptures of Hope. Please see this link for more context on the existing sculptures at this blog that was posted about some of my work that was recently completed: http://blog.frontiergap.com/partner-project-news/2015/11/4/drowning-in-despair-thailand-coral-reef-conservation-diving.html.
I use very simple, cost effective materials for these projects so every small donation will go a long way to helping me create more coral reef habitat. Our team of coral restorationists visit the site once a week to maintain and restore the site, ensuring the success of the naturally fragmented corals that have been transplanted onto the sculptures.