SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The U.S. Virgin Islands will soon build its first artificial reef to protect its shores and help the U.S. territory become more resilient to future storms, officials said Thursday.
The 18-foot (five-meter) by 12-foot (four-meter) reef will be installed near the coast around St. Thomas and is expected to be completed by July, according to the islands’ Department of Planning and Natural Resources.
The project will be funded by more than 760,000 federal dollars awarded to the University of the Virgin Islands after Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the U.S. territory in 2017.
Jean-Pierre L. Oriol, the department’s commissioner, said university officials select the hardiest specimens from more than a dozen types of coral in nurseries to attach to the artificial reef. He said officials were working with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts to create an environmentally friendly design.
“The goal is to provide improved habitat for corals battling climate change and provide additional shoreline protection as we work to restore natural coral reefs,” said Marilyn Brandt, project leader and research professor. at the University of the Virgin Islands.
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