Artificial coral reefs to conserve the sea floor

The building installed on the port of Sète in Hérault is impressive. 105 tons, 7 meters high with a dome at the top through which divers can get inside the hull. Renaud Dubuis de la Grandriv, director of marine environment in the city of Egde, laughs at the Europe 1 microphone. “We were told it looked a bit like a temple or a cathedral.” At a depth of 20 m, we will raise our heads and it will be even more impressive. Divers will be able to move around in this maze of small niches.”

Credits: Benjamin Peter / Europe 1

A nature reserve where no activity is allowed

They note that part of the Agde Coast Marine Protected Area, which extends over 6000 hectares off the Cape Town coast, has shown some signs of deterioration. Therefore, two years ago the city decided to create a nature reserve of 300 hectares where no other activity is allowed. “There have been places with natural sites that have been affected by activity, boat anchors and diving activity, because these reefs are very fragile,” he explains.

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“This famous native reef grows by a few millimeters a year and when you break it, you put it in the air for hundreds of years. We discussed with the diving clubs and we set up Roc de Brescou, where we no longer have the right to do anything but sail “, continues Renaud Dubuis. “But in return, we designed this project to make it an artificial reef village.”

Coral reefs made using a giant 3D printer out of concrete

In all, over an area of ​​just over a kilometer, there will be about a dozen reefs, all designed by the company Seaboost in Montpellier. It was made by a giant 3D printer out of concrete. Up close, you can see the layers of low carbon concrete that create cramping, which should allow the development of an ecosystem. “Everything is grooved, there will be biodiversity. There will be concretes, so slugs, algae that will stick to all of this,” defines Renaud Dupuy of Grandrive.

“There are also little fish that will live in the little bunkers we have set up, and the bigger ones that will spread out, because there will be room to let the current flow,” he explains. “We would expect to have pelagic fish including rare species like grouper which we believe contain some elements of this reef that may be suitable for their permanent establishment.”

In a few days, the reef will be embarked on a massive barge that will take it from Cite port to the Cap d’Agde coast where it will be submerged using a crane, then firmly anchored in the sandy ground. Divers should be able to explore it this summer.

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