First, we would like to thank all Reef Ball clients and
friends for your
patience with us during the last 2 months (and perhaps for the next month as
we catch up!). We know we missed a lot of phone calls, emails and other
inquiries while we worked on the Antigua Reef Ball Project. However, It was
During the last two months, the Reef Ball Foundation, in conjunction with
Stanford Development Group, has created the largest and most complete fully
restored fringing coral reef in the world.
Here are a few of the accomplishments that are world firsts....
1) We propagated (which means we created new colonies) over 5,000 coral
colonies of 30 different species
2) We rescued over 17.5+ tons of corals from dredging operations and
transplanted them onto the Reef Balls without a single coral family loss.
3) We re-established 4 new coral species lost from Maiden Island during a
category 5 hurricane five years ago.
4) We relocated and saved over 3000 (free living) rose corals.
5) We populated the Reef Balls with over 500 sea urchins to create
conditions optimal for coral recruitment
6) We built a near shore to offshore reef corridor to help transport
juvenile fish to adult fish habitat. We also created a large variety of
inter-unit spacing changes to create the greatest possible species
7) We created a "pinnacle" reef (3 large piles of huge Reef Balls nearly
reaching the surface in 20 feet of water and big enough to penetrate as a
scuba diver) with a "sound signature" to host potential fish spawning
activity. To our amazement, within 3 weeks of building it, we already have
a gray snapper pre-spawn event occurring with hundreds of very large snapper
schooling to spawn!
8) We created hundreds of yards of snorkeling and diving trails.All the
Pallet Ball sized Reef Balls (over 100 of them) on the trail each have 3 12
inch x 12 inch by one inch deep squares that can have snorkel trail signs
added or be left as is to serve as trail markers.
9) We added juvenile lobster recruitment mesh to several Reef Balls and have
already observed lobsters on the Reef. Other Reef Balls have a similar
material added to create invertebrate diversity. [More may be added by Nova
Southwestern as part of a study on invertebrates].
10) We have already documented 73 fish species, 71 Invertebrates, 30 Corals
and 26 Algaes (plus a turtle) now on the Reef. Increases in fish counts are
11) We stabilized over 9000 pounds of loose live rocks from the area to help
reduce hurricane reef damage.
12) The Reef Ball Foundation activated the Coral Propagation and Coral
Rescue volunteer teams. There were over 274 man-days of volunteer
assistance organized to conduct the project. This included expert
volunteers from Australia, England, Holland, Mexico, Curacao, France,
Italy, Antigua, Florida, Georgia, New York, Arizona, Turks and Caicos,
Mississippi, Malaysia, and more. Locals from Antigua (especially the
Optimist Club) astonished us coming out on even rainy days to assist.
13) Reef Balls have never been built faster...we had over 40 molds turning
2-4 times per day running 24-hours per day with shifts of dedicated
construction worker averaging 50 at any given time.
14) We deployed on average 60 Reef Balls each day (rain or shine), with
coral teams having transplanted the Reef Balls usually within hours of
deployment. Skilled barge crews operated in delicate coral reef areas
without disturbing the corals.
15) The documented gray snapper aggregation for spawning is the first known
formation of a fish spawning site and has major implications for future fish
17) We (intentionally) increased the genetic diversity of several species of
coral (Finger, Elkhorn, Staghorn, Lettuce, Brains, and soft corals) to
strengthen the reef from coral diseases and man made stresses.
18) We documented corals "basing" (growing out over the Reef Balls) in just
3 weeks including Staghorns, Elkhorns and Finger Corals. This indicates
they are healthy and will survive well.
19) The Reef included hundreds of "Feature" Reef Balls and an incredible
variety of sizes and shapes (including all reef habitat classes such as
voids, ledges and thickets)....all of these variations were designed to
mimic specific reef functions.
20) In total, the project will include over 3000 Reef Balls modules.
Astonishing pictures will be posted to our website soon....we took over 6
gigabytes of digital pictures!
All in all, a new standard in designed reef building has been set. I do not
hesitate to say that without question, this is the best and most advanced
designed artificial reef in the world. I can also say that my lifelong
dream of building a nearly natural coral reef has been accomplished.
I wish to give a very special thanks to the hundreds of people that have
assisted with this project. You have all shown a remarkable level of
professionalism and love of our worlds oceanic ecosystems to help achieve
our foundation's goals. And, of course, thanks to Alan Stanford that made
this all possible.