Reef rehabilitation

Worldwide, marine ecosystems are under threat. For the large-scale restoration of biogenic reefs, Blue Linked has developed a unique and revolutionary concept: 'Seeding hectares of reef'. Whether creating an oyster reef in a wind farm in the North Sea or restoring a coral reef in tropical waters, 'Seeding hectares of reef' is suitable for large scale restoration of marine ecosystems worldwide.

Special reef tiles

Instead of the conventional approach of using bare structures on the seabed to allow marine organisms to settle, we have designed special reef tiles. In our hatchery, we allow larvae of oysters, mussels, tubeworms or corals, or a combination of reef-building species, to grow on the reef tiles. We then sow the 'living', biodegradable tiles on a large scale in the sea - as many as 80,000 reef tiles per hectare - after which natural reefs form. The natural flow on the sea floor ensures that growth zones are formed, from which the reef can continue to develop. By kick-starting nature in this way, we can restore reefs on a large scale with real impact.

Click on the infographic to see how it works:
Infographic: Carola van der Valk

Unique features of our 'Seeding hectares reef' concept:

  • Impact with ecological relevance: nature rehabilitation in the range of hectares.
  • Possibility of having a combination of reef builders attach to the reef tiles before they are sown.
  • Low-tech approach: only one working boat is needed to sow the reef tiles over a desired area in the sea.
  • Flexible scaling possibilities.
  • Tiles are made from bio-based materials: no damage to the environment, materials do not need to be removed after reef recovery.
  • Smart monitoring possible through application of biodegradable transmitters in (part of) the reef tiles.
  • Due to the dynamic conditions on the seabed, the modular reef tiles form growth zones for the development of a natural reef structure with optimum settlement opportunities for diverse biota.
  • Applicable to various geohydrological soil types with potential for reef formation.

Biogenic reefs as biodiversity hotspots

Reefs play a key role in the marine environment and attract many other species. The Dutch government recognises the importance of restoring biogenic reefs in the North Sea, particularly oyster beds. The 'De Rijke Noordzee' programme explores the possibility of using wind farms at sea for this purpose, but methods for large-scale reef restoration are lacking. With 'Sowing hectares of reef', Blue Linked responds to this need. With the support of De Rijke Noordzee, we investigate possibilities to apply this concept in the project 'Lab test reef tiles'. In doing so, we hope to contribute to the return of reefs as hotspots of biodiversity.

Mobile laboratory for coral reef restoration

For the rehabilitation of coral reefs through sexual reproduction, Blue Linked has developed a mobile laboratory, also using self-designed reef tiles. The mobile laboratory, built in a sea container, can be placed anywhere to grow corals. In an accompanying manual, we brought together the knowledge and skills involved in the technique.
Coral embryos (photo: J. Craggs) Coral embryos (photo: J. Craggs)