Who would know what problems lie deep in the sea better than a diver? After witnessing the destruction of the beloved Cayman Island coral reef he had been diving since he was 14, Todd Barber decided to take matters into his own hands. He gave up a six-figure salary as a marketing consultant and decided to dedicate his life to restoring the world’s ocean reef ecosystems.
According to research from the Nature Conservatory, if the current rate of destruction continues, an estimated 70 percent of the world’s coral will be gone by 2050. The implications of this trend are significant not only to the environment but also to the people who rely on marine resources for their livelihood. Coral reefs are home to 25 percent of the fish species. If coral reefs disappear, 500 million people will need to look for alternative sources of livelihood and food; some of them might not have alternatives.
Todd Barber, together with his marine-biologist father, sat down to find a solution to this complex problem. Together, they came up with the idea of using concrete shaped like a beach ball to replenish the diminishing number of coral reefs around the world. It took another three years of constant research, prototyping, and testing to develop the first Reef Ball.
Barber said that their goal is not to dictate nature, but to imitate it. Reef Balls are hollow spheres of concrete designed to last for over 500 years. The hollow circular structure serve as the base habitat upon which natural coral reefs can grow. Reef Balls are inexpensive, portable, and easy to produce. In fact, the Reef Balls can be created anywhere to rehabilitate different forms of reefs such as oyster, oceanic, and coral reefs. In addition, they can be used to stabilize shorelines and minimize erosion.
The Reef Ball Foundation
The Reef Ball Foundation was established by Barber in 1993. Its main purpose is to put Reef Balls in various parts of the world where there is dire need of coral reef restoration. The organization works with community grounds, non-profit organizations, environmental groups, and corporations. This way, local communities are empowered with the capability to rebuild their own marine ecosystems.
According to Todd Barker, Reefs have an incredible bearing on human life…without conserving these resources, they’re going to be all gone before we even know what we’ve lost.”