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 8 2012: There is alot of coral restoration and studeis going on in South Africa on the east coast. I saw alot of it while diving down there. Maybe try to look up dive school down that that might be interested in what you do. They have the right temperature for coral to grow. The Maldives and Thailand could use your help too! Good Luck!
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      Mar 8 2012: thanks, Beth! there have been some Biorock projects in the Maldives and Thailand..main challenge is finding the partners that want to maintain the projects once they are created, and how to build the supportive community. Do you think dive shops are the best route?
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        Mar 9 2012: what about private partnerships? big local companies? you promise to put a plaque down by the structure for them and they maintain? they can use it as greenwash - sorry i mean corporate social responsibility projects...
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          Mar 12 2012: i like idea of bigger sponsors so we can actually get some traction, but again, grassroots is often the way to set up the foundation: like here in Portland, Friends of Trees has planted thousands of trees, and it was started on a tiny branch. If we rely on one big donor, we are at risk if we lose them, so need all levels of support. With a large sponsor, the plaque idea is one option. What do you think about a monitor/camera/surveillance of some kind that streams on the web so anyone can watch the progress? Maybe the donor could have a channel that live-streams from the project.
      • Mar 11 2012: Hi, Yes - the dive schools could very well be a good route, if it was sold to them as way to promote their businesses. They wouldn't have a business if they didn't have beautiful coral. Also, I don't know a single diver that wants to see coral areas die or have them available to dive in. You could try dive shops as well as around the country and get them to do/offer eco-dive tours where people interested in diving as well as helping to save coral environments. These divers might want to go to the locations throughout the year and help in the maintenance of the project put in place while getting some diving in! I have also see the damage people have done to highly used dive areas like Egypt. If they don't do something to save the coral soon they really won't have a business. That could be a great place to start as they may have more money and interest in saving what hey know is dying and damaged. The plaque ideas is good too Asha!
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          Mar 12 2012: Beth, thanks for these suggestions. I think I need to put together some kind of packages to "sell" to dive shops, resorts, and other conservation and/or university programs. Rather than waiting for them to approach us, we need to give them some clear program to consider and lay it out. And if we reach enough people, the ones most invested and committed will emerge so we can avoid half-committed partnerships. I would love help with this part! If anyone has the business interest to join me in this area, please contact me: misssnailpail@gmail.com I was about to start a new Living Sea Sculpture website, and that needs some direction as well. I want it to invite dialogue and share what we offer to the corals and for the trend to value ocean ecosystems.

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