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.

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  • Mar 9 2012: Hi Ms. Flanigan. I'm from the Philippines and we have some problems as well in terms of coral reef degradation. I'm not really sure which areas in our country need the most attention but you may try to get in touch with the University of the Philippines College of Science - Marine Science Institute. They can provide you with the information that you would need for your project. They can also serve as the link to other state universities in our country with marine science programs. All the best for your project! :)
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      Mar 9 2012: Thank you, April. I wonder if it is better, as Asha says above, to be invited rather than trying to "force" what i am doing onto communities? The Philippines does have big problems with reefs, yet is the government and institutions working to fund and maintain the restoration?
      • Mar 12 2012: I think if you coordinate with NGOs and academic institutions, they would be more welcoming with regards to your project, especially if they have ongoing projects that are related to it. They also get to work closely with the affected communities. It may be difficult to go directly to the communities without any local partner institution, unless you have a dedicated team of locals who can start the groundwork for you.

        As for our government agencies, let's just say it may take much longer to get feedback if you approach them first. We don't have as much funds allocated for environmental protection and restoration, plus there's a lot of red tape, so they may not be able to pay immediate attention to your proposal. If you're more keen on partnering with our government agencies, it would help to have someone process all the paperwork for you. Hope that helps. :)

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