In the Jade Sea off the eastern coastline of Hong Kong, scientists are excited to find squid protecting eggs in an artificial 3D-printed clay seabed that helps restore the city’s fragile coral reefs. I will.
In postcards and popular imaginations, Hong Kong is synonymous with urban density, a bush of skyscrapers packed along the harbor or clinging to the lush hillside above.
Still, it’s surrounded by an amazing array of nature, and a few reefs are some of the city’s best-preserved secrets.
According to scientists, there are about 84 species of coral in Hong Kong’s waters, which are more diverse than those found in the Caribbean.
Most can be found in the distant coves, far from the sediment-filled Pearl River Delta and its busy shipping channels.
But like all coral reefs in the rapidly warming world, they are under great pressure.
There, Vriko Yu and a team of her fellow marine scientists will join.
They started using 3D-printed tiles, which acted as artificial beds for corals to catch and thrive, with promising results.
“When I first lowered the tile, there were a few fish around,” she told AFP in a recent test by researchers at the University of Hong Kong (HKU).
The artificial coral reefs laid last summer are full of wildlife such as squid. This is what Yu described as “very, very exciting.”
The Hong Kong government commissioned a survey of the local coral ecosystem after the coral reefs in Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park were bleached and mass-dead.
Coral is a colony of billions of living polyp invertebrates and is highly sensitive to temperature changes.
If it gets too hot, it will lose its vibrant color and die.
Reproliferation of dead or damaged reefs requires adequate ground for the remaining coral larvae to grab and build new homes. Printed tiles have so far proven to be reliable.
“3D printing allows us to customize tiles and solutions for all types of environments. I think this is the real potential of this technology,” said HKU’s Associate Professor of Biosciences, who led the technology’s development. Professor David Baker said. AFP.
A 40-square-meter (430-square-foot) section of the ocean floor of the marine park is tiled with 400 coral debris.
“Corals currently on tiles will survive more reliably than traditional transplant methods,” said Yu, with a success rate of around 90%.
Several projects around the world deliberately submerge ships and concrete on the seabed to promote coral growth. And while those methods have had some success, they can change the chemistry of water.
The tiles used in the Hong Kong project are made of terracotta, so the impact on the environment is minimal.
“Clay is basically soil, so it’s soil that’s everywhere on the planet,” said Christian Lange, an associate professor of architecture at HKU.
Lange added that the chemistry of water remains the same, and if tiles are unable to generate new colonies, they are simply eroded without leaving a trace.
Marine biologists pay close attention to the success of coral reef regrowth programs, as coral is at risk of disappearing.
Rising seawater temperatures are destroying coral reefs around the world, especially in warm tropical waters.
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef, is now severely damaged and is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as the worst category, “Critical.”
Corals that exist in subtropical waters are of particular interest to scientists because they form generally hard colonies that can withstand a wider range of temperatures.
A recent Royal Society treatise found some evidence that some subtropical corals thrive in warmer waters compared to their tropical cousins.
“The Great Barrier Reef has many corals that live offshore in the clear tropical waters, and they are not accustomed to change,” Baker explained.
“So, having a little extra warmth will push them to the edge faster than we think our local corals will succumb to bleaching.”
Tiles are not a panacea for mass bleaching, Baker said.
But he hopes the project will be able to identify genetically resilient species to withstand future environmental stresses and give corals time to “adapt and move to better areas.” ..
“It’s possible that we’re actually creating a new potential home for coral trying to avoid climate change from the equatorial region,” he said.
New 3D printed “leaf tiles” to rebuild the coral community
© 2021 AFP
Quote: Hong Kong’s fragile coral reefs boosted by 3D printing (March 19, 2021) from https: //phys.org/news/2021-03-hong-kong-fragile-coral-reefs.html 2021 Obtained on March 19th
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Hong Kong’s fragile coral reefs boosted by 3D printing
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