First-of-its-Kind Built Coral Reef Deployed off the Coast of Antigua & Barbuda

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

Today, the world-class, pioneering coral reef restoration project OceanShot – created by climate scientist & marine biologist Dr. Deborah Brosnan and philanthropist entrepreneur John Paul DeJoria in collaboration with the Government of Antigua and Barbuda – deployed the first of its tailor-made coral modules off the island nation of Antigua and Barbuda. Unveiled last year, OceanShot is a featured project of the Global Citizen Forum and the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI).

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OceanShot’s deployment symbolizes an acceleration of ocean conservation and efforts to safeguard against the impacts of climate change. This monumental project will drive massive, unprecedented solutions at scale, uniting climate science, governmental action, and technological innovation.

The coral modules combine both built structure and living coral. They are architecturally designed to restore a once-thriving ocean ecosystem, and to protect shoreline and ocean communities from the ravaging impact of storms and sea level rise, as well as to revive ocean-dependent local economies. This project is scalable for global implementation. AI cameras, which will be critical for monitoring and devising solutions – have been deployed on the ocean bed to monitor the reef 24/7 to analyze the natural ecosystem, including fish diversity, coral growth, and wave patterns.

One of the most critical ecosystems on the planet, coral reefs cover less than 0.1% of the world’s oceans, but are home to over 25% of marine biodiversity, and support over 1 billion people with a wide range of ecosystem services. Already, half of the world’s reefs have been destroyed: We lose more coral in a day than we can currently restore in a decade. OceanShot will change that.

The island nation of Antigua and Barbuda was chosen for the initial coral module deployment because it is emblematic of the problem facing millions around the world. With the majority of its corals dead, the coastline is vulnerable to storm surge, erosion, and sea level rise. A living coral reef breaks over 90% of a wave’s energy, helping to keep sand on the beach and reduce run-up. But without its coral reefs and with sea level rise accelerating, Antigua and Barbuda is losing beaches – some facing erosion of up to 10 feet a year.

For OceanShot, Dr. Brosnan assembled a team of coral reef biologists, sea level rise experts, coastal engineers, and the local community on the island nation for an intensive, year-long ecosystem study. Together, they designed reefs to safeguard the nation’s future. Mathematical modelers helped to design reef modules that optimally function as a natural reef to combat increased storm surge, erosion, and keep sand on the beaches, as well as provide habitat for hundreds of species. Working with the local community, the team has grown 2,000 corals ready to outplant onto the modules, kick-starting the living restoration. Reef Cells manufactured the first set of modules, and plans are underway to design and build the next generation of reefs. A living lab has been developed on Barbuda to further advance reef solutions and development.

“This is our moon shot – but instead of launching up, we’re launching down. With OceanShot, we are restoring the place that is critical to human survival today – as well as for our future. Without healthy oceans, there is no us,” says Dr. Brosnan. “This isn’t just a science project, this is a full-scale solution that might be the answer to saving small island nations. We now know how to design and build reefs, and locate them so we get maximum benefits for the coast, as well as reviving fisheries and local communities’ blue economies.”

“We all rent space on this planet. We are responsible for taking care of it and for how we leave it for the next generation,” says John Paul DeJoria. “Coral reefs are the lifeblood of the planet. I am committed to furthering new and advanced environmental conservation efforts, and am delighted to partner with Dr. Brosnan on this innovative and impactful initiative.”

“The island nation of Antigua and Barbuda proudly pledged its full support to OceanShot from the outset,” says Prime Minister Gaston Browne, one of the leading figures tackling climate-change for Caribbean Island Nations. “We are the first country on which the project’s scalable solutions have been deployed. Prioritizing ocean resilience and blue economy for our citizens are among the most important initiatives being developed on the islands of Antigua and Barbuda.”

“This engagement and partnership with the OceanShot project is helping PADI to mobilize more ocean torchbearers who care about coral reefs and want to support creating positive ocean change,” said Dr. Drew Richardson, President and CEO of PADI. “We are working with Dr. Brosnan and her team to help form the basis of best practices guidelines for scalable coral reef restoration and monitoring—which ties in directly to PADI’s Blueprint for Ocean Action.”

The solutions provided by OceanShot are transferable, scalable, and can be deployed to other nations – especially the most at-risk nations, Small Island Development Nations – in urgent need. One year in, this is a recap clip on the project’s successes thus far.