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Cable Thieves: A Threat to Gili Islands Coral Reefs Biorocks

Updated: Mar 24, 2023

One of the detrimental impacts Covid-19 has brought upon Gili Islands is the declining economy. And it drives people to do anything to survive, including stealing Biorock coral reef’s cables for their own survival. Little did they know these cables play an important role to keep the reefs survive. Let’s get to know the importance of these cables!

What is Biorock and how does it work?

Coral reef gili island, what is biorock, how biorock works, Gili eco trust, Gili island tourism. CarbonEthics Indonesia
Source: Gili Eco Trust

Coral reefs are like underwater cities, another civilization for marine creatures. Aside from being exceptionally beautiful and mesmerizing, they act as barriers from storms and surges, give nutrition to fish and other marine life, filter the seawater so that it’ll look crystal clear and support the local economy’s backbone.

However, coral reefs are not the strongest in facing physical and chemical disasters like ocean acidification or strong currents. It is sensitive to changes, especially the ones caused by the climate crisis and human activities. This led us to invent a technology called the biorocks which is a steel structure where coral reefs can thrive upon and accelerate its growth. It also increases the survival rate of coral reefs while facing coral bleaching events and increased storm activity.

Now let’s get technical on how the biorock works. It is connected to the island by underwater cables that stream low voltage current that creates an electrolytic reaction and a stable substrate of calcium carbonate that accretes onto the rebar. This causes the structure to grow in size and become heavier and anchor itself to the reef.

Layers of calcium carbonate are deposited on the structures, providing a sturdy and optimal surface for corals to cement to. The low electric current also promotes the coral to grow faster and stronger than on the natural reef.

What happened to these Biorocks?

This pandemic has driven people to do anything they can for survival. Even if it means to steal the cables that support the sustainability of these Biorocks.

Even without electricity current, the existing coral reefs can still survive just fine but they won’t be as resilient. The magic these electricity creates for the coral reefs will help them survive and recover from the mass bleaching, stronger sea currents and climate change in general. Therefore, without these cables, Biorocks can’t fully function as it should and will greatly decrease the chances of coral reefs’ survival.

This will undo all Gili Eco Trust, local communities and tourists’ years of hardwork in sustaining the island’s livelihood via healthier marine ecosystems. And this will lead to a greater system failure of the island.

Because Tourism is what keeps Gili afloat, from conservation, rehabilitation, waste management and the all round economical aspect it is important for us to be aware that visiting Gili is not just about partying. So when it’s safe to travel again, go #BackToGili so #GiliWillRise again.

Bumi Journey envisions climate positive ecotourism by providing carbon-conscious ecotourism experiences focusing on conservation, education, and community empowerment so travelers can contribute positively to the earth’s climate. Learn more about our story here.

Writer: Virda Risyad

Editor: Faiz Karim

Instagram: Bumi Journey


1. The Importance of Coral Reefs by Reef Relief

2. Biorock by Gili Eco Trust

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