What is Biorock?
- Category: About Biorock
Global warming affects also the farthest regions as the isolated Gili’s islands, and especially its coral reefs which are so sensitive to the slightest changes of temperature or of the water quality. Fortunately, a lot of efforts are deployed to protect and to regenerate these invaluable natural resources. Gili Eco Trust worked closely with the “Global Coral Reef Alliance" to implement the Biorock technology around the three islands.
The Biorock method was invented, developed, and patented by the scientist Prof. Wolf Hilbertz and by the biologist Dr. Thomas J. Goreau.
The Biorock technology uses low voltage direct currents (above 1.2 Volts) going through a steel structure. The Biorock process also called electrolysis is happening between 2 metals receiving electricity in sea water, resulting in a steel structure to grow solid limestone minerals and the other metal to slowly disintegrate. These currents are safe to humans and all marine organisms. There is no limit in principle to the size or shape of Biorock structures, they could be grown hundreds of miles long if funding allowed. The limestone is the best substrate for hard coral. The Biorock process is used to regenerate coral reefs, re-populate damage reefs from coral and fish, break the wave action, grow beaches, etc…
Hard and soft corals, sponges, tunicates, and bivalves are observed to grow on Biorock materials at extraordinary rates. Hard corals on a Biorock structure can grow 2-6 times faster than in natural conditions, the corals on the Biorock reef are exceptionally bright coloured and densely branched, heal from physical damage at least 20 times faster, have up to 50 times higher survival rate from the most severe high temperature bleaching events, and show rates of new coral growth higher than any previously recorded data.
Fish and lobster population growth in these structures is extraordinary, especially juvenile fish, and depends on the shape of Biorock structures, which can be made to provide an extraordinary density of hiding places. Biorock reefs have turned severely eroding beaches into 15 meters of beach growth in a few years by slowing waves so that instead of eroding sand at the shore, they deposit it. They have been found stable in category 4 hurricanes and the Asian Tsunami, because the open frameworks allow large waves to pass through.
The Biorock reefs system was started in the Gili Islands in 2004. Each year more Biorock reefs are implemented around the Gili’s. Today there are more than 100 Biorock structures around the three islands.
The project is amazingly successful. New dive sites were created, which helped by its elves to protect and reinforce the surrounding reefs of the islands.
The Biorock reef system has helped global efforts for the reef restoration due to its positive effects on the overall marine life, ecotourism and various other conservation projects.