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The Tree Of Life: I Created An Underwater Electrified Artificial Reef
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The Tree Of Life: I Created An Underwater Electrified Artificial Reef

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I’ve been working as a reef sculptor for the last 4 years and have made several installations that I’m proud of, but none nearly as much as this latest piece.

This “Tree of Life” is an electrified artificial reef, which causes it to form a crust of limestone on its surfaces creating a bio-engineered habitat for the coral that we’ll garden across the sculpture. This is just one piece, a part of a larger electrified site that I’ve been creating through the New Heaven Reef Conservation Program and in partnership with coralAID for the last 2 years. You can find more context on this concept here.

More info: Facebook | Instagram

Growing the Tree

Transportation

Finally 10 meters below the surface of the ocean, the Tree of Life stands

Dascyllus Damsel Fish checking out the latest addition to the seafloor

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The work has only just begun. Now to garden this space with small, naturally fragmented coral that we’ll find lying in the sand

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These coral fragments, broken by waves and careless activity will be rescued from the sands where they would otherwise die, and fixed to the bars of the sculpture where they’ll thrive and grow into healthy colonies

The sculpture took several months to complete, and in that time it sat on my balcony as a lamp so it wasn’t entirely functionless

It won’t light up my bungalow any more, but it’ll be so much more useful to the marine life that will call it home

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Spencer Arnold

Spencer Arnold

Author, Community member

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I work as a reef conservation instructor, artificial reef sculptor and marine biologist for the non-for-profit Conservation Diver. I create, plant and maintain underwater artificial reefs and (try to) raise awareness for these threatened ecosystems.

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Spencer Arnold

Spencer Arnold

Author, Community member

I work as a reef conservation instructor, artificial reef sculptor and marine biologist for the non-for-profit Conservation Diver. I create, plant and maintain underwater artificial reefs and (try to) raise awareness for these threatened ecosystems.

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aileenls avatar
Teresa Anthony
Community Member
6 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Not only does the tree look beautiful, it also helps save precious coral reefs. You're an amazing person!

spencer_time_135 avatar
Community Member
6 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Thank you so so much for your words. The intent of these projects is to draw attention to these threatened ecosystems and of course to serve as a home for the corals I so love. If you're interested in more of my work check out my other Bored Panda posts or have a look at some of the articles I've written on my program's page at newheavenreefconservation.org.

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grasshopper1123 avatar
Just Carmen
Community Member
6 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

What a great thing you're doing. I wish you would've shown how you attach the coral on to the tree though. That would have been so interesting to see.

spencer_time_135 avatar
Community Member
6 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

We bind corals to the metal structure with metal wire, so it carries the impressed current running through the sculpture and binds the coral to the bars with a layer of limestone, the same material that corals use to build there skeleton. It's been suggested that it improves the growth rates of coral by 3-5 times, but we're running a test to prove that for ourselves as the technology only just became available now that it's 10 year patent has run out. Thanks so much for the kind words!

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aileenls avatar
Teresa Anthony
Community Member
6 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Not only does the tree look beautiful, it also helps save precious coral reefs. You're an amazing person!

spencer_time_135 avatar
Community Member
6 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Thank you so so much for your words. The intent of these projects is to draw attention to these threatened ecosystems and of course to serve as a home for the corals I so love. If you're interested in more of my work check out my other Bored Panda posts or have a look at some of the articles I've written on my program's page at newheavenreefconservation.org.

Load More Replies...
grasshopper1123 avatar
Just Carmen
Community Member
6 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

What a great thing you're doing. I wish you would've shown how you attach the coral on to the tree though. That would have been so interesting to see.

spencer_time_135 avatar
Community Member
6 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

We bind corals to the metal structure with metal wire, so it carries the impressed current running through the sculpture and binds the coral to the bars with a layer of limestone, the same material that corals use to build there skeleton. It's been suggested that it improves the growth rates of coral by 3-5 times, but we're running a test to prove that for ourselves as the technology only just became available now that it's 10 year patent has run out. Thanks so much for the kind words!

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