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Counting Coral in Fiji

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Counting Coral is a non-profit committed to the protection and restoration of the world's coral reefs, and was founded two years ago by artist Jolyon Collier, who decided to connect the worlds of conservation and artistry to take direct action on the coral crisis.

Counting Coral designs, builds, donates, and installs Sculptural Coral Banks, a new and advanced method to aid coral growth. At first glance, Counting Coral’s Sculptural Coral Banks are a layout of beautiful and elegant stainless steel sculptures arranged underwater.

However, their brilliance only starts there. Beyond their aesthetic appearance, these sculptures are planted out with climate-resilient coral, and meticulously designed in order to protect and naturally propagate the reef systems, while maintaining a healthy coral supply for harvesting when needed.

The installation of the first-ever Sculptural Coral Bank is this July, in the waters of Nacula Island, in Fiji. This installation, comprising 120 pieces, will not only provide immense support for the deterioration of Fiji’s coral reefs, but it will act as a catalyst for a future of installations around the world.

Counting Coral
The installation set up prior to being moved to Fiji

This is Counting Coral’s first installation, and these images show Fiji’s sculptural coral bank – but as they expand, they will be designing different styled parks in collaboration with each community.

The sculptures are made from marine-grade stainless steel. This material will naturally allow algae and sea plant growth, and is not toxic or harmful in any way. The sculptural park will be securely staked on a sandy floor, neighbouring a reef in the appropriate current line to allow the coral on the sculptures to naturally propagate the existing reef.

The flower petals that you’ll be able to see in the images are removable; in the case of severe bleaching events, they can be taken off of the sculpture. In addition, the flower petals are also expandable and foldable. This allows for them to be manually opened up as the coral grows, and protective enough so that the corals are protected from sea slugs and starfish.

Counting Coral
The central piece is engraved with ‘Hope', in honour of Sylvia Earle's Hope Spots

Along with other appropriate corals, the sculptures will be planted out with climate resilient coral. This will be revolutionary for the future of coral reefs. Counting Coral have spent years working with lead scientists in coral propagation, and particularly climate resilient coral, who will be present at the time of the installation to be a part of this process.

Climate resilient coral is a crucial step to a future of reef resilience and growth. The fragmented corals on the sculpture will develop into a coral bank over time. They then allow the coral to grow to spawning maturity, which allows for natural propagation. The sculptures will naturally propagate the near reef systems, while maintaining a healthy coral supply for harvesting when needed. The coral banks themself can then be used for fragmenting onto secondary reefs, or back onto the natural reef – but acting as a coral ‘bank' for the entirety.

The equally important side of this installation is the community. Any additional up-charge to dive/snorkel on the sculptural park will be directly given back to the community for community projects. Donation portals will be allocated to community as well. This installation will be largely focused on its giving back programme, where a full circle of giving will gain momentum. In addition, this installation will open up job and training opportunities for the locals, increase tourism, and drive awareness.

Mark Evans
Mark Evans
Scuba Diver's Editor-in-Chief Mark Evans has been in the diving industry for nearly 25 years, and has been diving since he was just 12 years old. 30-odd years later and he is still addicted to the underwater world.

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