3D Printed Artificial Reef
Why is it in News?
Scientists are studying the pros and cons of the world’s largest 3D Printed Artificial Reef in Maldives.
About the Initiative:
- The 3D printed reef in Maldives was developed using the computer modeling which resembled the reef structure typically found in Maldives.
- The reef structure was made up of ceramic which has properties similar to Calcium Carbonate (Caco3) of which natural reefs are made up of.
- Live corals were then planted on these reefs and with passage of time, corals will colonize the structure.
- The main objective is to create a coral ecosystem artificially.
- It is a man made structure that resembles the natural coral reef ecosystem with an ambition to protect and preserve the corals.
- The most common material used for the purpose is shipwrecks, lighthouse, and bridges etc. which are submerged in the water body; in conducive conditions and with passage of time it gets colonized by the corals.
Does India have an Artificial Reef Ecosystem?
- Yes. In 2017, the Tamil Nadu Government in collaboration with IIT Madras initiated the Artificial Reef Installment Programme to save its sinking island (Vaan Island) in the Gulf of Mannar.
How will Artificial Reefs restore the Sinking Vaan Island?
- Vaan Island was getting eroded by the ocean currents, waves etc. so the installment of corals, seagrass will hinder the flow of waves and ocean currents in turn will have positive impact on the restoration process.
- Corals are the living polyps that are in symbiotic relationship with the ‘Zooxanthella’. Zooxanthella is an algae that provides the food to the polyps through photosynthesis and in turn the polyps provide them the place to stay i.e. reefs.
- Corals are a bit like trees in a forest – they create most of the complex structure that provides a habitat for a diverse range of species.
- Coral reefs only occupy 0.1% of the area of the ocean but they support 25% of all marine species on the planet, hence are referred to as the ‘Tropical Rain Forest of Ocean.’
What Do Coral Reefs Need to Survive?
- Coral reefs are very sensitive to conditions like temperature, salinity, sunlight etc. They need a temperature of 20-21 degree, salinity of 27-40 ppm (parts per million) and depth of 60-70 meters of water to survive.
- Coral needs the shallow continental shelf as they need sunlight for the photosynthesis.
What is 3D Printing?
- It is an additive process where in the object is created layer by layer. Each of these layer can be seen as thinly sliced horizontal cross section of the final object.