TED Conversations

Colleen Flanigan

Director, TED Media, Miss Snail Pail


This conversation is closed.

Reviving corals -- how can your community maintain the living sea sculptures?

Do you live in or know of a place that could benefit from coral restoration, shore protection, artistic coral refuges?

Corals are dying due to many conditions largely caused by humans: overfishing, pollution, run-off, climate change, ocean acidification, sedimentation.

How we can implement more restoration to complement Marine Protected Areas and waste reduction?

I work to rehabilitate corals using BiorockĀ® mineral accretion.
This is how it works:
low volt direct current through seawater precipitates mineral deposition onto metal. The resulting surface is a natural substrate for corals to settle upon and colonize. The process can increase their survival in heating trends, and the corals can grow faster because they are getting minerals for exoskeleton growth from the electrolysis. To learn more about a current project in Cancun, Mexico that unites art, science, and eco-tourism: http://kck.st/vZ4GIk
And also: http://blog.ted.com/2012/03/09/sculpting-coral-gardens-fellows-friday-with-colleen-flanigan/

The aim is to help people and oceans live in better harmony.

What do you think makes the ideal scenario and approach for creating a successful coral refuge that is assured to be maintained after installation?

Do you have suggestions for creating a self-contained power supply to make this technology more viable worldwide?


Closing Statement from Colleen Flanigan

thank you all, for joining and sharing your voices.. And thanks, Troy, for those contacts; I did not get here in time to reply. This question led to discussion and agreement that there are problems and solutions are needed. Seems internal infrastructure and interdisciplinary programs are suggested. Bottom up. I tried to reframe the question to invite more direct responses about who within communities are interested in this work and how can they set up systems to be responsible for these type of projects. What are the incentives and ways to get more projects going. To date, Bali has the 2 most cared for Biorock nurseries and it is because of expats and locals, NGO's and dive shops, govt, tourists, universities, and workshops doing it together. As an artist activist, I believe this art/sci work can help the environment, the economy, and education, so hope to meet more partners open and ready to make it happen.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Mar 9 2012: Hey Colleen!
    I suppose if it is put down in areas that are frequented by divers there is the possibility that it will be 'used' often and monitored. Of course that means it might get over visited - but then people might give the natural coral a break for a bit. Not a bad idea? Working where I do I think I have come to realise that if you want anything looked after you have to give the local community some form of responsibility. The local government system should accommodate for that. The minute people have responsibility they step up to the job of protection (like some examples in east africa)...the minute outsiders come in and try to inform and 'impinge' their thoughts I have realised, the communities get lazy and think 'someone else will do it!'.
    More soon :)
    • thumb
      Mar 9 2012: thanks, Asha! that's what seems to have happened with some of the GCRA's projects in the past with resorts that were more about the moment, less about the longterm and maybe no specific local group committed. I also think it's my and my team's responsibility to create a way to make monitoring and upkeep easy... part of the educational and/or scientific community so that it inspires more involvement. When we were talking about Sri Lanka, sounded like money comes, project happens, money gone, no follow through. Someone in the Bahamas was talking with me about a project that would use the arts to try to help with conflict resolution between "outsiders" who use the harbor and the locals. so they would be working together to help the area and find common focus towards peace rather than their argument.
      • thumb
        Mar 9 2012: Correct - thats exactly the project most of the time. Outsiders come, make a lot of noise, implement over two years in a rushed manner and leave - leaving no plan for sustaining the project. I respect you for thinking longer term - the world needs more of that. its a challenge but its a challenge you take on when you decide to conduct a project somewhere. I also think local people are more likely to look after it if they see it. Perhaps you guys should have days when you take the local dive operators out there (pay for their dive) or something? certainly teh science of it should be simplified and taught to kids.....and how our role can be positive for a change.....anyways - its late here and i should be sleeping but this stuff is super interesting so more more more!

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.