Up Reef Ball Foundation Photo Gallery » Geographical Database for photos, videos, GPS Coordinates, news, and project descriptions. » Photos that can't be classified by location » news Prev Next Slideshow


acw0498[1] | Reef Balls Spur Marine Life Reef Balls Spur Marine Life Early in the 1990s, alarmed by the rapid deterioration of the world’s coastal ecosystems, diver Todd Barber thought long and hard about how to improve the quality of artificial reefs that encourage new marine life. For decades people had been throwing old machines, tires and concrete blocks into the water for this purpose. But trash, unattractive to begin with, can also disintegrate and lose its marine communities. “I began to think about taking a great big beachball, making it look gnarly like a brain coral, and wrapping concrete around it,” says Barber. From this early vision there has emerged the thriving, diversified, and much-heralded all-volunteer Reef Ball Development Group. Based in Sarasota, Florida, Barber’s group has made the so-called “reef ball” into a strong and versatile instrument for protecting marine environments. Concrete is poured into a fiberglass mold. Holes of varying sizes are worked into the structure, giving it the appearance of a rounded Swiss cheese. Reef balls vary in size from six inches to six feet in diameter. Cast around a rubbery bladder, they can be towed by boat to a drop site; the bladder can then be deflated and removed. Helicopters have bombarded coastal waters with reef balls. The Atlantis submarine has deployed them as well. By “tweaking them a little bit” with varying textures and chemical properties, Barber and his group work to make each ball resemble the natural environment into which it will be inserted. “You’re never going to be as good as Mother Nature,” says Barber. “But if you mimic what you’re trying to fix, you’ll be a lot better than nothing.” Reef balls have functioned effectively as far north as Newfoundland as well as in tropical and subtropical regions. Since the group’s first officially-sponsored ball hit the waters off West Palm Beach in 1993, more than 30,000 of its balls have been released at over 250 sites worldwide. The beat goes on at the rate of a thousand balls a month. Now the world’s largest producer of artificial reefs that are “aesthetically pleasing, ecologically sound, and economically designed,” as its literature terms them, the group is split into profit and nonprofit divisions. Market rate sales to customers such as Disney Corporation subsidize distribution to less affluent users. Says Jay Jorgensen, the group’s grants coordinator: “Our goal is balls in the water.” Tests now under way in the Dominican Republic and St. Lucia are suggesting that the reef ball can stabilize beaches, without pumping in offshore sand for renourishment, as well as protect marine biodiversity. Once enough evidence of success has been gathered, the Reef Ball Development Group plans to bring this technology back home. URL: http://www.reefball.org. Download Original Image
Total images: 48 | Reef Ball Foundation Home | Reef Ball Facebook Group Page | Help