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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Scuba diving Fujairah - artifical reefs take hold

A PLAN to use artificial materials to rehabilitate coral reefs 100 metres off the coast of Fujairah seems to be working, leaders of a conservation project have revealed.

Last June, 15 large reef balls Рdome-shaped, concrete spheres with holes in the sides and top, some weighing more than two tonnes Рwere placed in the water in front of Le M̩ridien Al Aqah Hotel.
An additional 20 have been placed since, and an exploratory dive this week revealed that a variety of young and adult fish have made the reefs their home.

The structures are also covered in barnacles and what is believed to be the beginnings of soft coral.

“We’ve been monitoring the progress of the reef closely since we laid the first blocks,” said Simon Tambling, the managing partner of Al Boom divers.

The goal is to have soft corals form in five years, followed by hard versions in the long-term.

Patrick Antaki, the general manager of Le Méridien Al Aqah, which is also involved in the project, said the artificial reef was meant to help restore damage done by a cyclone that hit the coast in January 2008.

"We wanted to be responsible for the environment that directly surrounds us,” he said.

There are already plenty of juvenile banner fish, puffer fish and jacks using it as their home.

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