A majority of the world's coral reefs may be gone in 30 years. Fortunately, intense work is ongoing on many fronts to save the reef. One method is to renovate damaged reefs, and here researchers from Bar-Ilan University in Israel have developed an effective method.
The researchers take pictures of real coral reefs and then use the images as a basis for printing pieces of the reef with a 3D printer. These pieces can then be attached to damaged parts of the reef so that the corals can start growing there again.
The researchers' method is scalable so it is easy to build large parts of a reef. Because they are based on images of the reef, it is possible to tailor the printed parts for each reef's unique conditions.
"The artificial reefs that exist today have difficulty replicating the complexity that exists in a real coral reef and thus make it more difficult to function as a host environment for the organisms that live in a coral reef. Our method uses data from real reefs, which allows us to create scalable structures adapted to each reef", says Natalie Levy, one of the researchers behind the method, in a press release.