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From isreal21c.org (click for full article)
Take a dive off the coast of Eilat these days and you're liable to find yourself swimming around a huge yellow concrete and wire construction that stretches four yards up from the seabed, is four yards wide, and is full of holes. No, this isn't some strange new structure left behind by an alien race, or cargo dropped from a sinking container shop, this is the first artificial coral reef in the Red Sea.
The reef, which was developed by the Israel Nature Parks Authority and a team of academics from the National Center for Mariculture at the Eilat campus of Ben Gurion University, the Inter-University Institute for Marine Sciences in Eilat, the Hebrew University, and the Marine Science Station in Aqaba, is a unique new approach to conservation in the Red Sea and part of a joint co-operative project between Israel and Jordan.
"The number of visitors is large and the size of the reefs is limited and too small," explains Dr. Nadav Shashar, the supervisor of the research project. "Because of the increase in the number of visitors, the coral reefs are unable to overcome the damage caused and are beginning to die out. If we don't act quickly, it's only a question of time before the excellent breeding conditions in the north bay become barren. Many bodies are aware of the problem and are seeking a way to solve it."
The openings of the reef have bars to prevent divers and swimmers from entering into unsafe areas, and to preserve the reef.
In six months another artificial reef is to be added on the Jordanian side of the Red Sea, it will be followed by four more - one in Eilat and three more in Jordan. Improvements and modifications are planned for the next reefs. "We are trying to improve all the time," says Shashar.
"Within a year we will estimate whether the whole thing is a success or not, and we will go on from there," says Shashar. "If all goes well then we will go to places where reefs used to be and actually build major large scale artificial reefs there. We are trying to design a new environment. All over the world reefs are being damaged and broken down, we are trying to add surface area. So far it looks like a great success. The fish are coming, and so are the people."