Indonesia’s deteriorating coral reefs get a new lease of life thanks to the efforts of German scientist Wolf Hilbertz and Rani Morrow-Wuigk.
Cyanide fishing and rising water temperatures had destroyed the reefs around Bali, but Rani Morrow-Wuigk, a diver decided to take things in her hands to save the beautiful corals. Inspired by German scientist Wolf Hilbertz’s ground breaking work on organic engineering, Rani launched an artificial reef project off the Pemuteran bay in 2000.
Rani Morrow-Wuigk first came to Pemuteran bay off the north coast of Bali in 1992 to visit its beautiful reefs but by the end of the nineties, increase in water temperatures and cyanide fishing had destroyed most of the reefs and all the corals were dead.
When Rani heard about Hilbertz’s discovery he made in 1970’s they decided to implement it on a priority basis. Hilbertz invention called “Biorock” technology, includes submerging a metallic structure in the sea and connecting it to a weak, harmless electrical current. The subsequent electrolysis led to the dissolved minerals to crystallize on the structure and growing into a build-up of limestone. As time progressed, the electrical current speed up the formation of chemical limestone rock and skeletons of corals and other shell bearing organisms.
Coral reef organisms like fish, crabs, clams, octopus, lobster, sea urchins immediately started colonizing the reef environment. As coral grows 2-6 times faster, it is possible to restore authentic coral reef in a few years.
Goreau who developed the Biorock technology along with Hilbertz is continuing with their work since Hilbertz’s death four years ago.
The Pemuteran bay sees 6 such cages thanks to the combined efforts of Rani and Hilbertz “Biorock” technology. The coral reefs are now not only reliving again but flourishing better than before. Moreover, the increasing water temperatures are not showing the undesired bleaching effect on the corals which they would otherwise have.