Snorkel Trails and Reef Balls
by Michael Allard
However, there is a way to alleviate pressure from the natural reef sites while increasing the number of snorkelling areas. This involves the creation of artificial reef systems. The most popular and successful artificial reefs, outside the use of sunken ships, are made from Reef Balls. Reef Balls are patented and specifically design for the type of reef life onewishes to attract. They come in various sizes depending on their purpose.
The Reef Balls are cast around a very durable Polyform inflatable bladder. This allows for the concrete balls (which are actually flat shaped on the bottom for stability) to be towed behind a boat to the site and then gently lowered onto the chosen reef area. Once on the sea floor, the bladders are removed to be used again. The balls are designed so that more than half their weight rests in the bottom within a foot of the sea floor. They are cleverly designed to use the force of the moving seawater, as we experienced with Lenny in large measure, to induce vortexes that reduce the lifting forces thereby keeping them in place.
Also, the Reef Balls can be cast in such a way as to increase their normal weight by double, greatly increasing their stability in high energy zones. These zones close to shore typically are most attractive to snorkellers.
Therefore, Reef Balls could be used to create
snorkel trails in areas where we currently have sand and no reef. These
trails will attract fish and other marine life of interest to snorkellers.
By creating trails in areas currently not used by those involved in
water-based tourism, we can alleviate the pressure on the natural resource
while building up resources for the future benefit of our tourism