‘Reef Stars’ Promoting New Growth in Bali’s Dying Coral Ecosystem
Using a snorkel and protective gloves, Pariama Hutasoit dives into the clear waters off the Indonesian island of Bali to remove plastic from a “reef star” installed by her conservation group to encourage new coral growth.
The Nusa Dua Foundation has installed nearly 6,000 stars, hexagonal steel structures approximately one meter in diameter, in coral reefs in Bali. The stars fill in the gaps in the reefs where the coral has died, promoting regrowth.
“We aim to install around 5,000 reef stars over the next five years,” Hutasoit, 52, a former World Wildlife Fund employee, told Reuters. “And in the future, we also want to expand outside of Bali for coral reef restoration if possible.”
The Indonesian archipelago is home to more than 75% of the world’s coral species, many of which face erosion and bleaching every year, according to the Coral Triangle Initiative, a transnational coral restoration project.
Only just over half of Bali’s coral reefs are considered to be in “good” condition, with 30% in “poor” condition and the remaining 15% in “very poor” condition, according to a 2018 report from the Ministry of Health. Bali Marine and Fisheries.
The damage has been attributed to human activity, including destructive fishing, global warming and strong waves.
Part of the mandate of the Nusa Dua Foundation is to organize community outreach programs, trying to educate local residents about the importance of protecting Bali’s coral reefs.
I Nyoman Sadnya, a local fisherman, said his parents had been mining coral from the island’s reefs for decades, ignoring the long-term destructive impact.
“My parents had no work and the area here was once an arid area, and it was sometimes difficult to find food,” he said. “So my parents resorted to coral mining for building materials, because they didn’t know (it was bad).”
Coral, commonly used for house foundations and decorative pieces, was a source of income for his parents.
“Looking at the state of coral reefs today, we realize that what we have done to them in the past was totally wrong,” he said.
Hutasoit is using World Oceans Day on June 8 to advocate for increased support for the regeneration of coral reefs.
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