reef ball australia
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applications

Over 500,000 Reef Balls have been deployed in 3,000 projects in more than 56 countries

            
            
See our 'Projects' page for a synopsis of our projects to date.

 

 

Habitat enhancement / Environmental offsets
Freshwater and marine habitats can be enhanced by the addition of Reef Balls including existing artificial reefs such as ships, breakwaters and jetties.

Enhancement of Canal Estates - coastal developments can capitalise on the new underwater habitat created by using Reef Balls to increase the productivity of straight and smooth seawalls, canal bottoms, and jetties.  Reef Balls can also help reduce boat wash within the canals.

Environmental offsets - research has shown that Reef Ball reefs can attract and support the same or greater diversity and abundance of species as nearby natural reefs. Therefore a carefully designed reef using Reef Balls is a viable option for offsetting environmental impacts. Reef Balls have been used extensively for environmental offsets in the US, and Rio Tinto in Western Australia has recently used them for offsets for a port expansion.
 
 
 
Fisheries

Reef Balls can be used for a range of fishery applications including the establishment of productive reef in barren or degraded areas, or as a deterrent to trawling in order to protect specific areas.  Reefs can also be designed to attract target species.

The NSW Dept of Primary Industries has validated the effectiveness of Reef Balls in the creation of fishing havens and is expanding the program to include Reef Balls in 6 estuarine areas.

Reef Balls have been effectively used in marine, estuarine and freshwater fishery applications including dams and lakes.

 

Impact mitigation / Environmental offsets

Reef Balls have been effectively used to mitigate the impact of natural disasters such as tsunamis, storms and coral bleaching, as well as intentional acts such as dynamite fishing, dredging, beach renourishment, ship groundings, anchor damage etc.

Loss of habitat - coastal developments or oil industry installations may impact upon marine habitat or reduce access to fishing or diving areas. Reef Balls can be used to create a compensatory reef in a suitable location.

Dredging - Reef Balls have been extensively used to offset the loss of hard substrate due to dredging, coral mining or beach renourishment projects.

Anchor damage - Reef Balls can be incorporated into permanent moorings used to reduce anchor damange on reefs.

Tourism - Reef Balls can be used to create additional attractions to spread the snorkellers/divers and reduce the pressure on natural resources.

 

Coral rehabilitation

Reef Balls can give damaged or imperiled corals a fighting chance, and provide valuable structure and refuge for fish and other marine life while the corals grow back.

Stabilisation of loose coral rubble - dredging, coral mining, ship groundings, dynamite fishing, anchors or storms can create coral rubble that is unstable and moves with strong waves. Coral larvae settling on the loose rubble is killed when the rubble rolls around, preventing regrowth. This rubble can also wash up onto beaches and damage mangroves, eg. Mud Island, Moreton Bay Marine Park. Reef Balls can be used to stabilise this rubble and provide habitat as well a firm base for new coral growth.  

Coral propagation - we have worked with scientists and aquarium experts over the last ten years to develop leading coral propagation techniques to safely transplant corals onto Reef Balls and ensure maximum survival rates.  A team of 5 can transplant up to 500 fragments in one day. Over 15 tonnes of coral was rescued and transplanted in one project alone. This technique can be used to offset impacts, save imperiled corals or restore damaged reefs.

 

Mangrove restoration

Promising trials are underway using a new design of Reef Ball unit to temporarily protect Red Mangrove seedlings in areas where waves and/or flotsam tends to limit their establishment. Trials are underway in the Cayman Islands and Antigua and we welcome contact from people interested in trialing the technique in Australia. 

 

Snorkelling / Diving
Dive/snorkelling sites can be enhanced or created using various configurations of Reef Balls.

Trails - these can be configured to provide a range of visual experiences for divers/snorkellers. For example they can start close to shore and include educational plaques or they can be used to enhance areas where diver training takes place. Resorts with no reef off their beach can create a income generating asset by establishing a reef. Reef Ball trails can also be used to reduce congestion around popular sites (eg wrecks).

Dive centres/clubs - we can organise a program where you can participate in making and deploying the Reef Balls at your dive site. Many people then enjoy monitoring the marine life that takes up residence.
 
 
Shoreline protection

Submerged breakwaters - Reef Balls can provide an excellent alternative, or addition to rock in the construction of submerged breakwaters. 

The internal voids provided by Reef Balls compared to solid rock/sand bags deliver numerous benefits including:

  • Greater marine life - which can provide a recreational asset, eg snorkelling or fishing attraction (ideal for resorts), and/or an environmental offset for impacts that may have occurred due to storms or development, dredging etc
  • 3-5 times less mass - coastal Reef Ball breakwaters can be built in 1-2m depth whereas rock breakwaters often have to be built in deeper water, therefore requiring more rock to achieve the required height and width, making submerged breakwaters traditionally an expensive option
  • Cheaper deployment - Reef Balls do not require large barges or lifting equipment (that may not be available or is expensive) and can even be floated out from the beach and deployed
  • Permeability - Reef Ball breakwaters allow water to pass through which prevents a ponding effect behind the breakwater and accelerated currents around the ends that cause scouring and washing out of sand.
  • Better water quality - permeability of the breakwater also helps maintain water quality in the lee of the breakwater which can be important if corals or seagrasses are present 

The stability of the units has been studied and proven in wave tank tests by the US Army Corp of Engineers and Florida Tech. Breakwaters have been constructed in Mexico, Florida, Antigua, Domincun Republic, Cayman Islands, Kuwait, and Sabah, and several have received direct hits from hurricanes and not moved.

Oyster Bars - Reef Ball units weighing up to 5 tonnes have been created specifically for nearshore breakwaters, however the smaller units such as Oyster Balls (15kg) make excellent mini breakwaters for shorelines in quiet waters such as estuaries where boat wash may be eroding the banks. The Oyster Balls quickly become colonised by oysters or mussels which then provide habitat, food, and natural filtering of particles from the water.

Enhancement of surfing reefs - reefs created using sand filled geotextile containers are prone to anchor damage and attract fishers.  Reef Balls strategically placed can provide added diversity of habitat and fish and help move fishers away from the containers.

Note: Structures that influence waves/currents must be designed by experienced professionals and we use a highly experienced international team for such projects.

 

 

            

 

 

 

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Deployment of Reef Balls in Canal Estate, Western Australia
 
 
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Deployment under docks to increase habitat, Western Australia

 

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Enhancement of fishing havens in estuaries. Photo NSW Fisheries

 
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Reef Balls can be used to accelerate coral regrowth on reefs damaged by blast fishing. Without Reef Balls, coral can take 10-50yrs to regrow in blast craters.

 
 
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Example of natural coral growth after several years. Photo by Jerry Kojansow
 
 
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Soft and hard corals can be propagated and transplanted onto Reef Balls
 
 
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Current trial of a new system to help establish Red Mangroves
 
 
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Add value to your trail by incorporating educational plaques secured to the Reef Balls. Ideal for resort applications and they can include sponsor logo or directions. Plaques are custom designed to match the local fauna and flora and application. 
 
 
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Reef Ball reefs blend in and attract similar or greater diversity of species than natural reefs
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Multi-purpose reef, breakwater, fish haven, snorkelling attraction
 
 
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Protection of estuarine areas from boat wash with the added benefit of productive oyster habitat. Photo: reefball.org 
 
 
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Wave tank testing - US Army Corp of Engineers

 

 

Reef Ball Australia 2007