REEF3D Project

Puerto Rico is currently facing an ecological emergency created by an uncontrolled outbreak of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD), a disease that causes the loss of coral tissue. This condition has caused the loss of 50-100% of the corals of several vulnerable species in multiple locations on the island, particularly affecting the reefs in the east, north and some in the south of Puerto Rico.

It also implies the loss of reef growth capacity, leading to an increase in the vulnerability of coastal communities due to the impacts of a hurricane. Reefs with high-growth corals can buffer 50 to 90% of wave energy. But a reef where almost all of its corals are dying loses the ability to attenuate wave energy, and with the climate change impacting Puerto Rico, this means a high level of risk of coastal erosion, and it turns in loss of life and public infrastructure. Recently, a new threat appeared called fireworms ("Hermodice carunculata") which are predatory species of corals and gorgonians. In addition, their highly venomous bristles can irritate fish and other organisms that dare to encounter this worm and consequently, the fish will leave the reefs and expose fishermen to more dangers, as they would have to travel a longer and more dangerous distance to catch the fish. This and the above reasons imply the deterioration of essential fish habitat, affecting their role as a nursery for multiple species, with consequences on our food security.

In Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria, earthquakes and environmental pollution the reefs are being affected and corals are hardly growing on them. This group of biologists approach Engine-4 to collaborate in the design and 3D printing of different types of corals to help the marine fauna. Currently they have printed several models of them for testing in Culebras P.R. So we will take notes to improve designs or go to mass production to help marine wildlife in our waters.