Is it possible to combine eco-tourism, volunteering in marine conservation, a PADI distinctive specialty diving course, and two weeks on a beautiful tropical island? With the Biorock(tm) specialty course offered by Trawangan Dive in cooperation with Gili Eco Trust, it is.
In April 2014, six participants (from Australia, Finland, France and Zimbabwe) came together on Gili Trawangan to learn about coral reef conservation and the Biorock(tm) process. Guided by Delphine Robbe of the Gili Eco Trust and Siân Williams of Trawangan Dive, they spent two weeks diving and studying topics such as:
- The ecology and biology of coral reefs and their organisms
- The importance of coral reefs
- The threats facing coral reef ecosystems
- Coral gardening: turning over pieces of coral that have been broken off and placing them where they have a better chance of survival, removing Drupella snails and other predators that threaten the corals, etc.
- Charting coral health using the CoralWatch system
- The Biorock(tm) technology, including how to build and maintain artificial Biorock(tm) reef structures.
During the course, the participants also built their very own Biorock™ structure, shaping it to look like the logo of the project sponsor, Samba Villas on Gili Trawangan. When finished, the structure was placed in the sea just outside Samba Villas, and pieces of broken coral was gathered from the area and attached to the structures.
After only two days, the structure was already starting to show a coating of limestone, helping the pieces of coral to attach and grow. This new Biorock™ is at a depth of around five meters, making it possible for both divers and snorkelers to enjoy, as well as protecting the shoreline from erosion, providing shelter for fish, and serving as a solid substrate for new coral growth.
The Biorock™ specialty course is currently offered four times a year. Meanwhile, the more than 100 Biorock™ structures around the Gilis are always open for visitors, both aquatic and terrestrial!
Text and photos by Sara Estlander