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October 2004 Vol. 30, No. 10   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Divers Rehabiltate Reef

from the October, 2004 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

In Bunaken National Park in Indonesia, blast fishing has been largely brought under control, but large areas of rubble remain (many blasted nearly 20 years ago). Two groups have a strong interest in rehabilitating these rubble fields: village fishermen eager for enhanced yields and dive operators hoping to spread effort among more dive sites and thus raise the diver-carrying capacity of the park.

The Seacology Foundation (Berkeley, CA) provided a grant to the park village of Manado Tua to purchase 600 ceramic “EcoReef” modules to rehabilitate a nearly 1-hectare rubble field in return for the villagers’ commitment to set aside this area as a no-take zone. Local dive operators donated nearly 300 hours of dive time to install the EcoReef modules to help determine if this technique is one in which they might invest to restore other degraded sites.

Completed in January 2004, the results are impressive, reports Mark Erdmann, an American advisor to the National Park. The ceramic “snowflakes,” designed to mimic branching coral, immediately attracted both schooling and sedentary fishes to the previously lifeless rubble field. Bryozoans, vermetid worms, tunicates, and hard coral recruits now cover the modules. More than one hundred coral fragments transplanted to the EcoReef modules (by wedging between the ceramic spines) have all survived. The project worked so well that Seacology provided a second grant for the nearby village of Alung Benoa to install its own ceramic EcoReef modules this past August. You can see photos and video of the Manado Tua installation:

PS: You can do something to save our reefs by supporting Seacology, a great diver-based organization. Visit their website at

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