There's no denying our coral reefs are in peril. With roughly a quarter of all marine life in our oceans relying on them for survival, they provide a critical habitat for all types of animals and plants. However, they are fading fast on account of mankind's drive for development. If the current rate of destruction continues, it's expected that up to 70% of the world’s coral reefs will have disappeared within a generation.
One way that scientists and conservationists are helping corals to fight back is through the creation of artificial reefs. These are man-made structures or natural objects that are placed in selected marine areas and provide a base structure for reefs to form and grow healthy with relative shelter and safety. There are several methods employed, from sinking old battleships to electrifying PVC piping, but the underlying principle is the same.
When an ocean current meets a vertical impediment, deeper water must flow upward, in many cases bringing up colder, nutrient rich water, which provides food for small fish and invertebrates. This creates a chain reaction, whereby larger fish come to prey on the smaller ones as population densities increase. In addition, the sunken structures provide a much-needed shelter for cryptic species such as grouper, snapper, eels, triggerfish, anemonefish, squirrelfish and many other reef fish. Predatory species such as sharks, barracuda and jacks will also venture into the vicinity if a sufficient and reliable food source becomes available. Overtime, corals, sponges, tunicates and other benthic species will recruit onto the structures and vie for space. Slowly, a true coral reef forms and the original man-made structure is enveloped.
Shipwrecks are usually the most popular types of sunken artificial reef sites to explore around the world. The structures may vary in different locations, but their underlying and primary purpose is the same; to protect and save our coral reefs.
Beginnings of an Artificial Reef
INDONESIA. Kubu, Bali. June 20th, 2013. The Kubu wreck was sunk in 2012 and is accessible off the beach, located roughly 100-meters offshore and is approximately 60-meters in length. Built in Holland in 1952, she was used as a patrol vessel by the Indonesian Government for the department of sea communication.
INDONESIA. Kubu, Bali. June 20th, 2013. The Kubu wreck was sunk in 2012 and is accessible off the beach, located roughly 100-meters offshore and is approximately 60-meters in length.
INDONESIA. Kubu, Bali. June 20th, 2013. The Kubu wreck can be penetrated at around 32-meters and done in a single dive. The remains of an old safari car and Buddhist statues adorn the lower deck. As it was only sunk September of last year, the wreck is just beginning to become colonized by sea fans, sponges and soft corals.
The Resident Batfish
INDONESIA. Kubu, Bali. June 20th, 2013. The resident batfish found guarding the stern of the sunken Kubu Wreck.
USS Liberty Wreck
INDONESIA. Tulamben, Bali. July 11th, 2013. The 120-meter long wreck has become a new home for an extraordinary number of fish, coral and invertebrates. Resident Bump-head parrotfish, napoleon wrasse and barracuda are normally spotted around the wreck.
INDONESIA. Amed, Bali. July 18th, 2013. A mermaid statue, made using white ph neutral cement rests in Jemeluk Bay. She sits at a depth of 10-meters and can be found 30-meters from shore. She was sunk to act as an artificial reef to provide a place for corals to settle and for fish to find shelter inside the base of the structure.
INDONESIA. Tulamben, Bali. June 19th, 2013. Sunken stupas rest at around 15-meters in Bali's Coral Gardens dive site. These reliefs were sunk as part of an artificial reef program to enhance the health of the local reefs and surrounding area.
INDONESIA. Amed, Bali. July 14th, 2013. Approximately 50 concrete pyramid structures were sunk in 2005 to become an artificial reef. Many of these structures have been adopted as cleaning stations and are teeming with life.
A Perfect Pose
INDONESIA. Tulamben, Bali. June 19th, 2013. Above a small caged structure with the words “Matahari Tulamben” inscribed, lies some old rope coiled in a knot and held upright by two thin sticks. In the center of the rope’s loop were a pair of Longfin Bannerfish guarding their home.