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Build it and they will come

4 October 2009 554 views No Comment

Transscript from article by Martyn Willes, ‘PGYC Cruiser News’, August 2007

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In the 3rd dynasty of the Pharaohs (27th century BC), in Egypt, pyramids started to be used as the intended repositories of the dead “to aid the king in the transition between his earthly functions and the position which he was to assume amongst the gods after death” (W. Stevenson Smith); pyramids of distant antiquity have been found in Greece, Cyprus, Italy, India, Thailand, Mexico, South America, U.S.A., Ukraine, Bosnia, Cuba and various Pacific islands and almost all are believed to have had a similar purpose — to offer sanctuary for the  soul and to become the starting point for rebirth into a new dimension. Now, in the 21st century AD, in Puerto Galera, ABwonderdive is using similar pyramid structures as places of transition and rebirth of a different sort.

The destructive tropical storms of 2006 wrought havoc on the shallow reefs off the beaches of Sabang & the two Lalagunas and elsewhere on the Southern shores of the Verde Island Passage. Many coral areas were stripped of their vibrant cloak of life, as the waves pounded a millennium of cnidaria (a.k.a. coral; Greek = stinging needle) growth to rubble while many corals in other areas were broken, dislodged and tumbled.
Puerto Galera, like so many other tropical paradises, primarily survives as a tourist destination because of the fish that feed on the coral, the fish that feed on those fish and the thousands of scuba divers who come to take in their beauty and capture it in splendorous pixelation. Recognizing this and the importance of timeliness, and following advice from the Puerto Galera Dive Association, Bjørn & Alice, the determined Danes of ABwonderdive took affirmative action to restore at least one part of the coral community, at the same time expanding the variety of diving attractions along the beaches.

Bjørn & Alice recruited local metal workers and within three days they built two pyramids of steel at a cost of less than US$250. On 21st July ´07 the pyramids were loaded onto a boat and, about 200 meters off their dive resort on Small Lalaguna Beach, the structures were lowered to the sandy bottom. They came to rest between 18 and 20 meters down where to be brushed by the life-enabling, crystal-clear Verde Island Passage currents.
To the pyramids sections of steel mesh have been added to facilitate the attachment of broken coral pieces retrieved from damaged reef areas and still showing viable life; the structures are secured to the seabed with broken coral clumps and concrete blocks. The expectation is that the corals will revive & flourish, eventually covering the steel frames and concrete blocks before the steel eventually corrodes to nothing in the oxygen-rich, cobalt-blue water.
The exact timing of the pyramids’ demise as steel structures is not clear – probably eight to ten years – but it is hoped that within that time sufficient mass and solidity will have been established within new coral growth that, at the very least, they may only partially collapse. Assuming minimal collapse they will offer a network of “caves” and crevices where fish will find sanctuary and homeliness sufficient to confirm the new reef’s significance, in place of those that have been lost or damaged.
Bjørn says that he will probably not stop at two pyramids, “if these show results within the year then we will add more” he asserts, “we want our visitors and those from other dive shops to enjoy the experience of watching them grow”.

Within a week (on 27th July) “pyramid reef” had already accepted its first fishy residents so it looks as though Bjørn may have to plan for more structures faster than he thought. And as he pointed out, “these pyramids cost so little and require so little effort that all the dive shops on all the beaches should start their own programs”.
If you want to know more about the repopulation and rejuvenation of Puerto Galera’s reef ecosystem then stay tuned to the Cruiser News; in the next issue we hope to bring you the story of one man’s dream to reintroduce the harmless (to man) black-tip reef shark.
If you want to watch the growth of “pyramid reef” week-by-week then check out the “Artificial Reef Project 07” on the ABwonderdive website or any questions to Info@abwonderdive.com (http://www.abwonderdive.com/website/default.asp) or, better still, book a dive with Bjørn & Alice and check out the reef in real-time.

Martyn Willes

Book now on info@abwonderdive.com

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