MARS - Modular Artificial Reef Structure 

Developed for Alex's final honours graduate project in Industrial Design at Monash University. 

ABSTRACT

The Modular Artificial Reef Structure (MARS) has been designed to help mitigate the growing effects that modern human activity is having on our marine environments. Unprecedented population growth is putting increased pressure on our oceans, not only because of climate change and pollution, but also because of destructive fishing practices, increased water runoff and dredging. Our irreplaceable coral reefs are some of the most bio-diverse and uniquely fragile eco-systems on the planet, and consequently suffer the quickest and most drastically from this human expansion. Ironically those who contribute the least to these global pressures are the ones who are suffering the most. Many island communities, who rely on the health of their coral reefs for food, are finding that rising sea temperatures, ocean acidification and commercial fishing operations are devastating their reefs. 

An existing solution to repair these damaged reefs is to create durable underwater structures that act as building blocks to help repopulate corals and fish stocks. When a coral reef is damaged it can takes decades for the corals to regrow to their previous glory but with the help of an artificial reef this process can be sped up. The issue however with many existing artificial reef products is the scale and complexity of the implementation process. The required machinery is both expensive and inefficient, as well as inaccessible for island communities. Many artificial reefs do not provide adequate material and surface design to encourage the natural colonisation of organisms leaving the reefs devoid of corals, sponges and seaweeds. 

MARS solves these issues by creating a modular design that can be deployed from small boats and implemented by divers. This completely eliminates the need for heavy-duty machinery drastically reducing costs. The MARS units are a completely unique way of realising artificial reef structures. The product combines durable materials and functionally aesthetic surface design, with the versatility of a modular system. The surface of each unit provides unique indentations for transplanted and naturally occurring corals to prosper and provides protective space for a multitude of organisms. The units allow for the structure to be tailored to specific environments, in shape and size creating a stronger and more natural reef system. The product can also be used to add features to man made structures such as piers and rock walls to increase the biomass of the area.

Based on over three years of independent research into suitable materials, MARS is designed to maximise the potential for sustaining ocean environments. 

For industry information on MARS and other artificial reef solutions please visit Reef Design Lab