Reefgen coral robot under water

Reefgen – Fiscal Sponsee of the Month

Global underwater restoration capacity is not able to keep pace with the rate of loss of the foundational species in ocean ecosystems. Coral is being lost at an average rate of over 1 hectare per minute, about 1 million times faster than current restoration efforts. Seagrass is being lost at over a hectare per hour, while current restorations are measured in hectares per year.

Reefgen is working to overcome this restoration shortfall by radically increasing the rate we can outplant nursery-raised organisms for restoration of natural ecosystems.  We can achieve this goal by building and operating low-cost fleets of remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) to perform the outplanting. Automating the outplanting portion of restoration can reduce cost, increase the range of locations and weather suitable for outplanting, and allow staff resources at restoration projects to be directed to the breeding and care of organisms resistant to climate changes, disease, and environmental stressors.

Reefgen’s technology to outplant corals and seagrass is many times faster than the limits of current manual techniques. To achieve this speed, the coral planters prepare a hard substrate for coral planting and permanently attach a coral with a simple instant fastener; this method allows them to rapidly plant corals while maneuvering around the complex environment of a coral reef. The seagrass planters are built as more traditional intelligent agricultural planting machines adapted for the underwater environment, allowing for work at agricultural scales to restore seagrass meadows. 

Reefgen has built a team of extremely capable experts in underwater robotics to complete this development. In addition to our core engineering capability, we collaborate with scientists and restoration groups so that we ensure compatibility with the newest biological science and restoration techniques as we develop our machines.  Reefgen has successfully field-tested proof-of-concept robotic systems for both corals and seagrass and is currently improving the planting systems to increase capacity and rate of operation. 

We are actively seeking both partners for pilot projects and early-adopter customers. We operate as a planting-as-a-service provider for restoration projects worldwide. For more information, contact us at [email protected].