Students begin Biorock project by constructing geodesic domes at school. Carol Giles Photo.
Since 2014, Fishers Island School students have engaged in a scientific study of artificial coral reef construction through the application of low wattage electricity. Their study also measures whether oyster growth is affected by electrochemically-charged conditions in the “reef.” This technology is called BIOROCK®.
Biorock technology was invented over 30 years ago, using safe, very low-voltage, electrical “trickle” charges to grow and repair marine structures at any scale and to grow or restore marine ecosystems. One of its co-inventors, biochemist Dr. Thomas Goreau, came to Fishers Island in 2015 to oversee installation of three geodesic steel domes in Hay Harbor. A year later, the domes were moved to West Harbor, where they had greater success.
A $12,000 grant from FIConservancy’s 25th Anniversary Grant Fund helped make this course of study possible for Island students.
Biorock’s low voltage electrical currents through seawater cause dissolved minerals to crystalize on structures, growing into a white limestone similar to that of coral reefs. This technology as been used on a large scale internationally to restore degraded coral reefs in tropical waters. Through meticulous data collection, students, under the direction of science teacher Carol Giles, determined that Biorock is also effective in colder waters.
In a lab report presented at both the 2017 Connecticut State Science Fair and the 2017 Long Island Youth Summit, “The Future of Long Island: Economy, Environment and Diversity,” the students concluded:
“One of the main potential uses for a Biorock system in the Northeast Atlantic and globally is the protection of reefs and shorelines. Submerged or partially submerged structures, such as the Biorocks, can decrease shoreline erosion by dissipating the energy of approaching waves…As sea levels rise and the threat of erosion increases, especially on coastal communities like Fishers Island, Biorock structures could become an important part of the attempt to limit damage to property and lives.”
FISchool students received 3rd place honors for their presentation at the Science Fair and were one of 28 finalists out of 300 presenters at the Long Island Youth Summit. As finalists, the students were invited to attend a summit that discussed solutions to protect Long Island Sound.
Oysters reside in Silver Eel Cove for the winter. In March 2017, students massed and measured oysters, and returned them to their designated voltage areas for another season of growth.
Read about Biorock project Phase I on fishersisland.net
Read about Biorock project Phase II on fishersisland.net