Maple Plain, Minnesota – Protolabs has created a 3D-printed TPU funnel device to assist in the collection of coral gametes. It is part of a project at by global non-profit Secore International, which focuses on coral reef restoration. The project won a Protolabs Cool Idea award.
Coral has been badly affected by climate change. Rising water temperatures in the sea has led to coral bleaching, when the algae that live in symbiosis with the coral die off, and the characteristic colour provided by the algae fades. The resulting decline of coral reef populations has also made it difficult for coral to reproduce unassisted. The results are devastating: the Great Barrier Reef is now half gone.
This is where organisations like Secore come in, developing technologies and tools to assist in coral breeding and collection. A critical step is to collect coral reef larvae during their annual spawning event. Divers place mesh ‘tents’ over the coral, and a funnel attachment helps to direct the floating larvae into a small vial at the top of the net.