Singapore builds artificial reef 

Singapore has installed the first part of an artificial reef structure on a bare seabed off its Small Sister islands. 

There are eight fake reef installations due to be sunk by the end of 2018, which are expected to add around a square kilometre of reef substrate to the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park by 2030.

About 250 hard coral species are found in Singaporean waters, accounting for 32 per cent of the planet’s hard coral species.

The “Grow-a-Reef Garden” project is part of a wider conservation effort in Singapore’s Southern Islands to protect the Lion City’s coral reefs and enhance marine biodiversity.

Dr Karenne Tun, marine chief at the National Biodiversity Centre, said she expected to see marine life on the installations within three to six months. 

Tun said: “We expect the first things to grow to be the algae … Then barnacles will come in and start settling. Over time, other species will start to settle … and they will displace some of the early colonisers until it comes to a stable equilibrium. That will be anywhere from a couple of years.”

The materials were tested and had proven “very good” for reef restoration purposes, she said. The “reef” would probably last about 100 years with minimal repairs or maintenance needed, Tun added. 

Each of the 10-metre-high artificial reefs would form a three-storey platform on to which coral can grow and marine creatures live, said parliamentary Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin. 

The “reef” is being built in 40 hectares in Sisters’ Islands Marine Park, south of Sentosa and about a 45-minutes by boat from Singapore’s southern wharf. They are made from concrete, fibreglass pipes, steel and rocks, full of holes and ledges in which sea life can find shelter. 

The creations are intended to convert diverse reefs from the bare seabed, allowing coral to grow.

The artificial reefs will provide opportunities for research and test-bedding of technologies, along with plans to establish a coral nursery at the site.

“The project… will be significant in supporting marine habitat enhancement and reef restoration efforts,” Tan said at the launch. “There is no silver bullet to overcome our environmental challenges. What we need is a range of multi-disciplinary solutions involving expertise from different parties.”

Eleven Singaporean firms have contributed US$210,000 through the Garden City Fund to the US$1.1 million project.

Singapore has lost an estimated 60 per cent of its reefs to land reclamation and an outbreak of bleaching in 2016 caused by high sea surface temperatures is blamed for destroying up to 20 per cent of Singaporean coral. 


The artificial reef is designed to offer a home to marine life and could be copied across Asean. Picture credit: Flickr