“Coral reefs are some of the most bio-diverse and uniquely fragile ecosystems on the planet,” explains Reef Design Lab, “and are consequently suffering most drastically and quickly from human expansion.”

Modular Artificial Reef Structure (MARS) is a system designed by Reef Design Lab industrial designer Alex Goad. MARS is a complex ceramic lattice that allows for coral frags to be transplanted to its surface and grow to establish a reef ecosystem.

Modular Artificial Reef Structure (MARS) by Reef Design Lab for coral reef restoration
Modular Artificial Reef Structure (MARS) by Reef Design Lab for repairing coral reefs

The modular system works like a large underwater Lego set, able to be constructed by divers in a myriad of ways depending on the needs of the site to help mitigate the damage human activity has done to reef ecosystems.

“When a reef system is damaged it can take decades for corals to re-grow to their previous heights, but with the help of an artificial reef, this process can be sped up,” explains Reef Design Lab.

“Many artificial reefs do not provide adequate material and surface design to encourage the natural colonization of organisms, leaving the reefs devoid of corals, sponges, and seaweeds. MARS reinvents the artificial reef as a modular system that can be easily manufactured, easily implemented, and tailor made for a majority of applications.”

MARS has been implemented on Summer Island in the Maldives where there is a large coral frag farm but no nearby natural reef structures. It was voted one of the top ten inventions of 2015 by Popular Science magazine, and was the winner of the Dyson Australia Innovation Award.

Modular Artificial Reef Structure (MARS) by Reef Design Lab for coral reef restoration

Images by Alex Goad, Courtesy of Reef Design Lab.