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Your kind donations to OPP's Monthly Community Clean Ups & Eco Gardening Sessions  will help us continue to serve Pasir Ris by turning ocean pollution into solutions!

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Stars In Our Seas - Coral Reforestation In Bali

A few months ago, we announced our partnership with Livingseas Asia in East Bali - restoring the degraded reefs there through the planting of coral reef stars.

Since then, our partner, Livingseas, has been actively planting coral reef stars and repurposed bottles throughout Padangbai in Bali, maintaining these structures and conducting research to continuously improve their implementation. Here, we will share with you more details about the project and how you can get involved.

Why Bali?

Bali sits in the Coral Triangle - a marine region known to be the world’s centre of marine biodiversity, spanning the tropical waters around Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste. This area holds a phenomenal 76% of the world’s coral species and its resources directly sustain more than 120 million people living in the area.

Image Credit: Livingseas

However, as Indonesia struggled to deal with the economic impacts of COVID19, their poverty rate rose to 9.8%. Their tourism industry has also suffered >S$9.5 billion losses as a result. In 2018, the Indonesian Science Institute also found that 34% of Indonesia's coral reefs are in a "poor" condition, meaning that live coral cover is below 25% due to destructive fishing techniques, increased carbon dioxide emissions and nutrient and sediment loading. However, the positive effect of healthy coral reefs on Indonesia’s coastal fisheries, development, and tourism sectors could also contribute an additional $37 billion to the economy by 2030.

What are Coral Reef Stars?

Coral Reef Stars are hexagonal steel bars shaped into a star, anchored onto the sea bed while promoting corals to spread along the structure. We allow each star to be branded with our sponsors’ logos.

Image Credit: Livingseas

Each Coral Reef Star is connected together underwater to form a large web on the surface of the degraded reef. Coral fragments are planted by divers and tied securely to the Reef Stars. Within 2-3 months, coral repopulation can be observed (subject to light, temperature, Co2 levels, nutrient levels, etc.).

Why Coral Reef Stars?

In August 2019, a comparative study was conducted with Kopernik - a Bali based non-profit that works to reduce poverty by experimenting with potential solutions that address common challenges facing people living in the last mile. The experiment was conducted with monthly monitoring over 7 months until February 2020, when we were disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Limestone statues, bottle reefs, and the Reef Stars were compared and installed in 2 different reef sites - Baung Penyu and Mimpang.

Image Credit: Livingseas

Image Credit: Livingseas

From the survey results, our partner Livingseas discovered that reef stars showed the highest potential against the other 2 methods on survival rate, ease of installation and cost per coral fragment.

Type of coral planted

Acropora species (a broad genus of stony corals) were chosen for this experiment due to their local availability and fast growth rate. These species are able to form dense, three-dimensional thickets at depths of 5-20m, providing essential habitats for a diversity of marine life such as turtles, fishes, crabs, gastropods and more.

Image credit: Livingseas

However, Livingseas found that Acropora sp. were not resilient to algae growth and other damage. Other types of corals such as the plate and round growth type are more resilient to damages but have a slow growth rate (Livingseas, 2020). Hence, we are currently experimenting with combining different types of coral to increase the reef’s resilience. Regular maintenance of the reef stars is also required to sustain survival. Without it, algae or sponges grow on the structures rapidly, taking up space and smothering the corals before they have had a chance to grow large enough to protect themselves (Livingseas, 2020). While repurposed bottles have a lower survival rate than reef stars, small reef fish have started to live around the bottles - even inside them - and will hopefully be able to feed on the algae that grow on Acropora sp. Coral.

Image Credit: Livingseas

Why are we partnering with Livingseas?

Ocean Purpose Project’s digital footprint and marketing abilities partner well with LivingSeas, a Singaporean dive company which is currently operating in Bali due to travel restrictions caused by COVID19. Past conservation activities include reef baseline studies, building Biorock structures from scratch and experimenting with various reef-building techniques - bamboo structures, recycled bottles and now reef stars. Within the next 5 years, Ocean Purpose Project and Livingseas aim to plant a total of 7000 reef stars (up to 126,000 coral fragments) across both reef sites - Baung Penyu and Mimpang in Padangabai, East Bali. This goal will allow us to build a reef that is indistinguishable from a natural reef. Our future programmes include online and offline conservation education and dive education courses specially tailored for Asian audiences, where conservation is a priority.

Image Credit: Livingseas

How you can play a part

Each Coral Reef Star costs S$200. This can be purchased via our Ocean Purpose Project app - under the OPP Shop. The proceeds will be going towards the implementation and maintenance of the reef stars in East Bali, mobilisation of the local community to construct reef stars, promotion of reef education programmes and conservation efforts as well as helping Ocean Purpose Project to continue our research and implementation of Plastic to Fuel and Seaweed/Mussel Bioplastics in Asia. As a social enterprise, Ocean Purpose Project is 100% self-funded and your contribution will help us continue our work for remote coastal communities.

Join us today and help keep our oceans clean and beautiful for all.

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