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Technology Around the World
Aired August 15, 2004 - 16:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN
ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAJPAL: And into the deep blue sea, our intrepid Michael
Holmes dives into the underworld, where coral reefs are getting a new
lease on life.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's quite
extraordinary. Those reef balls have been there for only three months and
there's already plenty growing on them.
RAJPAL: A concrete plan in
Kuwait, not just another fish tale.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJPAL: Hello, again.
someone says to you he has a concrete idea, he means he has a solid idea
that will stand the test of time. Well, we're going to be more literal
than that; an idea that really is concrete and it will stand the test of
time, a minimum of 500 years. It will also help preserve the world's coral
reefs, which are not only spectacular to look at but are also rich in
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 complex.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a
lot of complexity. That's the thing about the habitat, the microsurfacing,
the macrosurface there, to provide protection and shape. There's the
design with the holes in it, which are convex, which actually create small
vortexes which disperse nutrients.
HOLMES (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 plant
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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 Sims (ph) runs a company called Eco Seas
in Kuwait, but he's also a contractor for the reef ball parent company,
which is based in the United States. You see, reef balls aren't just in
Kuwait. Far from it. Nearly 4,000 projects over the past 10 years,
1/2-million reef balls deployed off New Zealand, parts of Africa, the
Middle East and here a spectacular project in Antigua.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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, but 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.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After we
made the first test deployment of some balls in Gawa Island (ph) and
Donkey Reef, we transplanted corals down here, and to actually go back
after a couple of weeks to see them still growing, still strong, it was a
very successful deployment, and the propagation of corals is a very
important part of growing and saving the fauna and life forms out
HOLMES: 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 ball converts.
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.
We suit 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
They might look like something from a science
fiction movie, and there is a lot of science behind their development, but
at their core they are remarkably simple and
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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
With a natural coral reef going around it, of course it's
going to help protect it even more, so it's going to life, last, even
longer than that. So in essence, a reef ball is a permanent structure on
the ocean sea floor.
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.
(voice-over): The dive club now regularly
adds to its reef ball collection, this may just be a small one but, well,
we like it. It's a gift, you see. No ordinary reef ball, it's a GLOBAL
CHALLENGES reef ball. 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
Michael Holmes for GLOBAL CHALLENGES, Kuwait.
RAJPAL: Ah, that Michael Holmes, he'll go to any
lengths, or in this case any depths, to get the story.
that is it for us, from New Delhi. I'm Monita Rajpal, thank you so much
for watching. We'll see you next time.
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