Helping to replenish coral reefs

Published 31 August 2004

Malaysia’s coral reefs have been highlighted in the media lately due to increasing stress from too many divers, El Nino and industrial accidents.  Malaysia, like many other countries which rely on these fragile beauties for eco-tourism, has had to find ways to replenish endangered sites. Artificial replenishment had been the answer. This method, using a system of concrete “reef balls” has garnered increasing publicity for their apparent low cost and seemingly sound theory. However, this theory stops short of comprehensive reef management.

Enter celebrated underwater photographer Daniel D’Orville, 42. Under his company Call Strategic Creative Sdn Bhd, D’Orville created Aquascape, a reef rejuvenation method similar to how landscape architects re-sculpt the land they work on.  Installing Aquascape involves several stages of research, deployment, as well as careful monitoring of results. Just as how the latter integrates a new clump of soil into its existing environment, D’Orville felt that reef rebuilding could take this into account. 

Pre-constructed units (made from cement-friendly material) are positioned on the sea bed of the site. Coral fragments are transplanted on to the newly-installed unit. This encourages the coral to thrive on the unit and attract marine life. The unit is monitored and maintained to ensure it develops into a thriving reef.