Return to Transcripts
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT
(voice-over): Off the coast of Kuwait, a rather odd looking object is
about to be tossed into the Persian Gulf, one of the final steps in a
process that begins like this:
Concrete, a mold, and what so far
appears to be a terrific idea.
They're called reef balls, here high
and dry after manufacture, a variety of sizes and designs. But their final
resting place is under the waves, where they are being used to create
artificial reefs, marine habitats, breakwaters, erosion preventers, and
some very cool diving destinations.
(on camera): Once the mold
comes off a reef ball, you're left with, well, a lump of concrete, but
this is not just any lump and this is not just any type of concrete. This
is a very complex lump of concrete.
MIKE SYMNS, KUWAIT REEF BALL
CO.: There's a lot of complexity. There's the thing about the habitat, the
micro-surfacing, the macro- surface there to provide the protection and
shape. There's the design of the holes in it, which are convex, which
actually create small vortexes which disperse the nutrients.
(voice-over): Oh, yes, the concrete, a finally chewed recipe that makes
the reef ball enviro-friendly and actually attracts both flora and fauna,
and with a pH level close to that of seawater. End result: a fish and
SYMNS: It amazes one. It's a wonder of life, really,
when you see these -- within the hour of putting them in there, you will
see fish quite happily swimming in them, using them as habitat
HOLMES: Mike Symns runs a company called EcoSeas in
Kuwait, but he's also a contractor for the Reef Ball parent company, which
is based in the U.S. You see, reef balls aren't just in Kuwait, far from
it. Nearly 4,000 projects over the past 10 years, half a million reef
balls deployed off New Zealand, parts of Africa, the Middle East, and here
a spectacular project in Antigua.
TODD BARBER, REEF BALL
FOUNDATION: Reef balls are important for a lot of reasons. They're an
important educational tool for people to understand how important natural
coral reefs are. They're also an important tool for us to be able to
restore coral reefs by transplanting corals on top of them, as well as to
replace the habitat that corals create.
transplantation has become a highly successful benefit of the reef ball.
When they're made, small indentations are carefully created during the
concrete pour. Coral is then placed in a special mixture and essentially
just planted on the reef ball. The results have, for the most part, been
spectacular. Endangered reefs have been given some new life and new reefs
created where once there was just sand.
Today we're the guests of
the very active and very enthusiastic Kuwait Dive Club. For years they've
been building artificial reefs to dive on, but these days they are reef
This from the clubs biggest deployment, dozens of
reef balls shipped out via barge and lowered into place by crane, a
massive endeavor, but this is one bunch of keen Kuwaitis.
up as the preparations to launch the latest reef ball continue. Down
below, a forest of reef balls and schools of fish, a new ecosystem where,
not so long ago, there was an underwater desert.
BARBER: Well, reef
balls are designed with no metal rebar inside of them, nothing that would
make them degrade, so in essence, a reef ball is designed to last a
minimum of 500 years.
HOLMES (on camera): Well, that's quite
extraordinary. Those reef balls have been down there for only three
months, and there's already plenty growing on them. Some coral will grow
15 centimeters, up to 15 centimeters, in a year, so before long that's
going to be a real reef.
Another aspect of this program is
encouraging corporate or individual sponsorship of balls. You get the GPS
coordinates so you can find it, your on plaque, and you can visit any
To View as a video (7 megs) click