Sometimes, the simplest ideas are the best ideas. When looking for materials to cultivate coral, on a tropical island favoured by tourists, unsurprisingly one of the most readily available materials are beer bottles!
Thanks to the ready availability of this inert and non-toxic material, we are able to produce small clusters of artificial reef structures in an incredibly short amount of time, with only a small amount of effort.
Read on, and see how we make these wonderful little things…
So in another example of recycling readily available materials, here at Reef Conservation, we make use of the bulk laundry soap containers, thrown out by our housekeeping department. These containers are typically sent for disposal on the mainland, so before they are sent off we cut off the base and thoroughly clean it in preparation for its re-purposing as a concrete mould.
Once the moulds have been scrubbed clean, we slice them vertically in four places and drill holes in the mould. This is to assist in the removal of the mould, once the cement has set.
We use steel wires to bind the edges together, which can be easily removed when we are ready to remove the mould.
Understandably we have many different sources for our bottles, including our wonderful Haad Tien customers and our very generous dive crew! Preparing the bottles is a simple process, where they are rinsed, and then wrapped with a length of steel wire, which helps to ensure the bottle does not slip free of its cement base, later in its life.
After arranging the bottles, we pour a concrete mixture into the moulds and spread and pack it to ensure the bottles are securely bonded into the base. After some cosmetic touch-ups and smoothing, the newly made bottle reef structures are left to set for 24 hours.
Having cured overnight, the structures are ready to be turned out from their moulds. We soak the reefs in a bath of water for a few minutes which helps break the seal between the mould and the concrete.
After releasing the steel bindings, we gently prise the mould away from the structures and hey presto! We have ourselves a brand new bottle reef!