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News from the Cayman Islands for Friday March 28, 2008


The Governor of the Cayman Islands, His Excellency Stuart Jack, CVO, announced on Thursday, 27 March that he has put three senior police officers on required leave to facilitate enquiries into allegations against officers of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.  Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan, Deputy Commissioner Rudolph Dixon and Detective Chief Superintendent John Jones... read more...


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Long-time visitor restores reef ecosystems
Published on Friday, March 28, 2008 Email To Friend    Print Version

Todd Barber with the Reef Balls in background.

Todd Barber gave up a six-figure salary as a marketing consultant and dedicated his life to restoring the world’s ocean reef ecosystems, after witnessing the rapid devastation of a Cayman Islands coral reef where he had been diving since childhood.

“I had been following this reef since I had been 14; it was where my first dive was,” Mr Barber said. “When that one little tiny reef was lost, that sparked something in me. If we lost one and it took that tens of thousands of years to get here, how fast is this happening?”

He had caught a small glimpse of a larger global issue, the destruction of the world’s coral reefs.

According to the Nature Conservancy, if the present rate of destruction continues, 70 percent of the world’s coral reefs will be destroyed by the year 2050. Not only are they home to 25 percent of all marine fish species, but the organisation states that 500 million people rely on coral reefs for their food and livelihoods.

Mr Barber and his father, a marine biologist and fellow diver, devised a solution to enhance coral growth. What started as a basic idea to shape concrete around a beach ball, led to three years of research, testing and prototyping with the help of friends and college professors.

“Our goal was to mimic nature, not dictate nature,” says Barber. “And that meant that I couldn’t come up with an idea; I had to design something that would fit exactly what the reef required.”

Mr Barber calls it a “Reef Ball.” Made of concrete engineered to last more than 500 years, Reef Balls are circular structures with a hollow centre that serve as a base habitat upon which a natural reef can grow.

Portable, inexpensive and environmentally friendly, according to him, Reef Balls can be built anywhere and are used to mimic and rehabilitate all forms of oceanic reefs, such as mangrove, oyster and coral reefs. They can also help control erosion and stabilise shorelines.

To manufacture and place Reef Balls in marine habitats around the world, Mr Barber established The Reef Ball Foundation in 1993. Today, the non-profit organisation works with environmental agencies, universities, community groups and corporations and empowers others to build and restore their local marine ecosystems.

“Reefs have an incredible bearing on human life,” he said. “Without conserving these resources, they’re going to be all gone before we even know what we’ve lost.”

According to Mr Barber, marine conservation isn’t just about Reef Balls, but they’re one important tool.
“It’s about saving natural reefs. It’s about changing our behaviours. It’s better to save the reef that you have than to build a new one,” he said.

Since its inception, the Reef Ball Foundation has placed Reef Balls in more than 59 countries.

“For me, personally, the satisfaction comes from diving on a Reef Ball and seeing that the environment has been rehabilitated; that the reef is actually there and that our grandkids will be able to see the same thing,” he said.




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