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State and Gold Coast to build the first floating reef

Divers looking at a underwater reef.

By Juliano Oliveira

A world-first floating reef will be open on the Gold Coast by 2021 as its construction is about to start. A subsidy worth $ 2,5 million from the Queensland Government has been put into a dive attraction project in which an area of 2.5 kilometres offshore from Main Beach will be used for the reef.

The whole concept for the design, developed by Queensland artist Daniel Templeman, revolves around living sculptures, standing 16-20 metres above the ocean floor. This setup will be possible after the installation of nine buoyant ‘sculptural reef flutes’ individually tethered to the seafloor by reinforced concrete and steel pyramids.

The Gold Coast City Council expects to achieve the creation of a new ecosystem to attract fish and serve as sustainable habitats for a diverse range of marine flora and fauna.  “Divers will be able to swim around and through the floating reefs which over time will become covered in marine growth attracting schools of fish and other species,” said Mayor Tom Tate.

The state government and council are intending to split the costs. They expect to attract 16,600 new visitors and more than $2 million in annual overnight visitor expenditure. It will generate 18 jobs during construction and 82 jobs once operational. The dive attraction is projected to bring $32.8 million into the region’s economy in the first 10 years of operation.

Australian company Subcon Technologies Pty Ltd, whose portfolio has more than 20 industrial-scale engineered reefs in Australia and internationally, is behind the operation to build the attraction.

Subcon Technologies Chief Executive Officer Matthew Allen said he believed this would be the largest sculptural reef in the world combining the three key principles – iconic tourism attraction, dynamic and immersive dive experience and robust technical design.

“We’ve carefully incorporated features we know will rapidly recruit marine life including fish, flora and reef invertebrates. Resembling bommies or vertical column reef outcrops, it will be no time before the reefs are teaming with a diversity of marine life, creating a living artwork of ecological ocean habitats.”

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