First recorded Reef balls in British waters

by James Murphy BSC (Hons), Director Of Marine Science

After the Reef-balls have been placed into position, they will be left to settle. When we are confident they are secure, the monitoring procedures will begin. We aim to survey each Reef-ball once a month to ensure they are effectively monitored.

The flora and fauna we find living on and around the reef structures are catalogued. We use HSE commercial divers to perform visual and photographic surveys on our Reef-balls so we can identify the different species inhabiting the reef. The divers will also be estimating the total percentage cover of the structure allowing us to track the rate of colonisation.

We use baited video traps to see what fish species are in the area and to assess the abundance of mobile species over time.

Bedrock and stony reefs are both types of rocky reef. These occur where the bedrock or stable boulders and cobbles arise from the surrounding seabed creating a habitat that is colonised by many different marine flora and fauna. Rocky reefs can be variable in terms of both their structure and the communities that they support. They provide a home to many species such as corals, sponges and sea squirts as well as giving shelter to fish and crustaceans such as lobsters and crabs.

Biogenic reefs are those that are created by the animals themselves. In the UK these include coral reefs, made by cold-water corals such as Lophelia pertusa and Madrepora oculata.

Biogenic reefs can also be made by reef-building worms such as the honeycomb worm (Sabellaria alveolata), the ross worm (Sabellaria spinulosa) and the serpulid worm (Serpula vermicularis).

Mussels such as the edible mussel (Mytilus edulis) and the horse
mussel (Modiolus modiolus) can also create biogenic reef structures. The Reef-balls we are using as our artificial reef components are designed to replicate both the rocky and biogenic reef structures allowing us to rehabilitate damaged areas.