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 Biorock® 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: I live in Puerto Rico and have been witness to the sad decay of the coral reefs that surround the island. Whether it is because of pollution, or construction, or human abuse, I have seen the beautiful coasts of this island succumb with years pass. There are many factors that can be taken advantage of here that could help support a "green" way of recovery for the reefs; for example, solar energy can be used to power up any devices.
    The University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez has a struggling Marine Biology department that could use new ideas and incentives. It can be an ideal place to do your research since that particular campus is also home to a very important Engineering school. Perhaps an incentive can be created to partner up the different Engineering departments and Marine Biology, even Biology into providing a creative solution based on your idea. The university also happens to be located in the west of the island, home to amazing reefs, and the Marine Biology department happens to own an offshore island that is surrounded by some of the best coral reefs in Puerto Rico. Sadly , the reefs around Magueyes island are some of the ones being affected by pollution and human abuse. Even more, the bio-bay there is also dimming out! It is one of the very few in the whole world. I can see your project becoming a beacon of hope on that campus if people are willing to give you a chance.
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      Mar 8 2012: Thank you, Camille. It sounds like they need an infusion of financial support and curriculum refrom to start to address this kind of action. I wonder if it is the students who need to design a request to add these programs? or the professors?maybe together..
    • Mar 14 2012: Coral reefs in La parguera are in part being affected by the pollution release from ill designed sanitary tanks in the Magueyes (Marine Sciences) island off the coast of La Parguera and leaking sanitary systems from illegarl houses on the coast. Urban development and sprawl and the sediment and pollution related to ill planned land use is having an irreversible impact in one of best reef systems of Puerto Rico. We've been talking about this for decades and also making and remaking studies but we never get to management actions that effectively reduce degradation.

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