After they have matured sufficiently either inside the parent colony or on their own in the ocean, coral larvae have undergone enough of development to have developed keen senses and even little motile appendages called "cilia" that will allow them to choose and navigate towards an appropriate home; they are now termed "planula larvae". Planula need to settle on a hard substrate in order to properly attach themselves and metamorphose into the next life stage - an adult colony. They can sense light, water density, temperature, sound, and even chemical signatures in the water that guide them towards a healthy reef.
One of the indicators for healthy reef substrate is the presence of crustose coralline algae, or CCA. As a calcifying red algae, CCA contributes to reef development by binding carbonate sediments and helping to cement and build reef substrates. Perhaps more interesting still, CCA also facilitates the settlement of coral larvae. Corals can sense a reef with healthy CCA growth, and the chemical signatures that it gives off help trigger coral metamorphosis. On unhealthy reefs, often the hard substrate is preempted by fouling animals and large, fleshy algae that prevents CCA and corals from settling.
Diverse marine growth and crustose coralline algae (CCA) on Oceanite after 14 months.
IntelliReefs are designed to attract calcifying organisms, such as CCA and wild corals, from the water column and provide a substrate that enables quick and resilient growth. Our IntelliReefs coral habitats are cast from a unique, proprietary mineral mixture called "Oceanite". Oceanite is a complex matrix of minerals that mimic the natural substrate on a coral reef. The mixtures have been developed over 20 years of rigorous nanotechnology research and testing for biodiverse animal growth and immediate integration within local ecosystems.
Coral recruit after 14 months on Caribbean IntelliReefs.
IntelliReefs are capturing wild corals and giving them the tools to recover on degraded reefs.
After only 14 months of deployment, scientists found healthy, wild coral spawn settled and growing on IntelliReefs deployed near natural reefs in the Caribbean. Oceanite has a complex matrix of pores that increase the surface area for animals to settle and allow for small animals like new coral recruits to survive predators in the early stages of life. Each Oceanite mix design can be fine-tuned to target species-, function-, or site-specific conservation goals. It is composed of proprietary marine mineral matrices that include high-grade limestone, aragonite, and diverse pozzolanic (calcium-binding) components at the nano-scale to attract and support marine life.