Corals live in tropical waters throughout the world, generally close to the surface where the sun's rays can reach the algae. They form one of the world's most colorful and diverse ecosystems, and though they cover only about 1 percent of the ocean floor they have a huge effect on the health of the rest of the world, supporting about 25 percent of all marine creatures.

 

Reefs house hundreds and even thousands of species. The diversity is due to the fact that reefs are an important location for finding food, shelter, mates and places to reproduce. Reefs also act as nurseries for large fish species, keeping them safe until they are large enough to strike out into the deeper ocean.

 

 

Corals are animals

Corals are not plants. They're actually animals and are relatives of jellyfish and anemones. Though "taking root" on the ocean floor, corals are sessile animals – unlike plants, they do not make their own food. While corals get most of their nutrients from the byproducts of algae photosynthesis, they also have barbed, venomous tentacles they can stick out, usually at night, to grab zooplankton and even small fish. At their base is a hard, protective limestone skeleton called a calicle, which forms the structure of coral reefs.

 

 

Corals grow as long as a living polyp is attached on the sea floor

Reefs develop when a polyp attaches itself to a rock on the sea floor and then divides into thousands of clones. The polyp calicles connect to one another, creating a colony that acts as a single organism. As colonies grow over hundreds and thousands of years, they join with other colonies and become reefs. Some of the coral reefs on the planet today began growing over 50 million years ago.

 

 

Sika Thailand fights coral bleeching

Healthy coral reefs mean healthy oceans, which means a healthy planet. But corals have been extremely reduced in the recent years due to coral bleaching from extensive fishing and extermination by humans. Scientists estimate that human factors, such as pollution, global warming, and sedimentation, are  threatening large swaths of the world's reefs. So it is incumbent on all of us to preserve and restore corals. Sika Thailand is setting a creative and impressive example. But how did they proceed?

 

 

Waste materials for coral rerforestation

First of all we must note that Sika Thailand produces about 80,000 tons of mortars, admixtures and resins per year. There are major waste volumes of  cement and sand. As neither has any negative impact on the environment, they have up to now been used for landfill. Recently a cooperative venture was set up with a local naval school to use these materials to repair buildings and roads while recycling the waste material into concrete cubes for coral reef reforestation. All this takes place at the island of Koh Samet on Sai Kaew Beach, Chonburi province. The island is controlled by the Navy base and is connected to the Gulf of Thailand, some three hours to the south-east of Bangkok. The coral branches to be planted are  delivered by Thai Navy personnel, who patrol the sea regularly. When they find damaged corals which are still alive, they collect them for growing.

 

The actual process starts by mixing cement powder with water to obtain a  glue-like texture. This mass is then formed into a cube with a hole in the middle of the top side.

 


Last steps to reforest new corals

When dry, a coral branch is put into this cement hole. The coral becomes is then again attached to the cement hole by a Sika cement powder mix. It is important to pay attention and not touch the coral branching and staghorn during the whole process so that the parts can grow later on. It is then once again time to wait for the attached cement to dry. Afterwards, the cement cubes with the corals are moved to the navy boat.

 

 

Corals only survive 5-10 min. out of seawater

As corals can only survive out of seawater for 5 – 10 minutes (depending on the species), they must be moved to the sea immediately or else kept watered. Personnel with diving skills now drop the cement cubes with corals to the seabed. Subsequently, it is a question of monitoring the corals to see how fast they grow. After some months, sub-branches can be seen.

 

In 2016, Sika Thailand produced 840 concrete cubes with waste materials and planted corals. These provide a new habitat for marine life. But now there is an even more ambitious plan – to plant 2,000 corals in 2017.