A Race Against Climate Change

As the entire world is isolated and waiting for the COVID-19 pandemic to slow down, we can see the effect that we are having on the environment more clearly than ever. The pandemic has coincided with the third coral bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef - the worst to date.

Coral reefs are a rapidly declining, critical ecosystem, and we need to step in now to prevent further deterioration. Technologically speaking, we are in an arms race against a changing climate to develop restoration methods that can mitigate the effect of rapidly deteriorating oceans.

Reef Life Foundation is revitalizing, restoring, and protecting coral reefs around the world.

To this end, the Reef Life Foundation has developed enhanced underwater mineral habitats called IntelliReefs. They support diverse biological communities and protect coastlines by employing innovative nanotechnology techniques to marine specific growth mixtures called Oceanite.

We know more about space than we do about life in the deep ocean. Ocean ecosystems are the Earth's final frontier.

Oceanite substrates are customizable to site, species, and function. They are designed to enable precision control of pH values, surface chemistry, and texture to attract target marine species and enhance the growth of calcareous organisms, such as crustose coralline algae (CCA), shellfish, and corals.

IntelliReefs Revitalization, Restoration and Protection of Coral Reef Systems

Maddi White from The Lovepost recently published an article called, "Underwater underdogs: the unsung heroes of coral reefs who deserve our attention and protection too". In it, she details the lives and importance of lesser-known coral reef organisms, many of which can be found on IntelliReefs! White outlines the importance of complex, suitable substrates to provides homes for these creatures and foster biodiversity on reefs. See the full article here.

Coral reefs are one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on earth and provide homes for 25% of all life in the oceans.

The Reef Life team deployed 3 Oceanite artificial reefs off the coast of Philipsburg, Sint Maarten in October 2018 as part of a pilot study to examine whether IntelliReefs can facilitate and accelerate the development of healthy coral reef communities. The team compared growth on the IntelliReefs and measured the abundance and diversity of associated fish after 14-mo in a coral reef marine protected area (MPA) and two unprotected seagrass beds.

Reef Life Foundation conducted fieldwork in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten to evaluate the IntelliReefs in January 2020.


Reef Life Scientists found that the IntelliReefs boasted more cover of animals and plants than the surrounding natural reefs, and had a more diverse array of species. Corals, sponges, tube worms, and a variety of other invertebrates were found on nearly every inch of the substrate. Results also indicated that sites with a high amount of vertical relief over ecologically relevant spatial scales can sustain large fish populations. Read about our initial results here.

Scientists around the world have monitored coral communities to learn how to best conserve them.
"The results of our pilot study are really exciting because we found that the microtopography and complex matrix of pores created by our substrate provides an incredible amount of surface and interior space for a diversity of life to settle. Other artificial substrates don't provide interior habitat for animals to colonize. Many of these species are important for reef development and provide food for the fish community" said Emily Higgins, Reef Life Foundation’s Director of Science and Communication.

Reef Life Foundation has a contract with The Nature Foundation St. Maarten to deploy a large-scale sculptural art dive reef in Sint Maarten. The coral reef system will be a 30 x 30 meter series of sculptures shaped like sea turtles and cast from Oceanite. Reef Life Foundation will continue to work with The Nature Foundation St. Maarten, with expansion of the IntelliReefs into the Marine Protected Area and other dive locations.

Valuable ocean habitat has been lost around the world, reducing homes and food for marine species.

The Whole Story: Restoring Reef Biodiversity with IntelliReefs

About Reef Life Foundation

Reef Life Foundation has funded the research, design, and construction of marine restoration structures that mimic the complex, mineral composition of natural ecosystems. We deploy IntelliReefs to communities that rely on thriving ocean ecosystems for food, tourism, economic security, and coastal protection. Our mission is to revitalize threatened ecosystems through holistic, scientific solutions. We are currently working towards building over a million square feet of reef by 2025, restoring dying coral reefs back to diverse and sustainable ocean ecosystems, strengthening the communities that rely on them. Visit www.reeflifefoundation.org or follow us @reeflifefoundation on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Reef Life in the Media

For additional information please contact [info@reeflifefoundation.org].

Give Back Today

Want to give back now? Donate here or check out our Gift a Reef campaign to give back to the ocean and your loved ones.

Created By
Emily Higgins