Artificial reefs reduce the damage of divers on natural coral reefs, according to a new Ben-Gurion University of the Negev study just published in the Journal of Environmental Management.
Visitors and divers are known to have an economic interest in protecting the coral on the one hand, but also as intruders who harm them unintentionally.
The study, led by Dr. Yaniv Belachsan of the department of hotel management and tourism at BGU’s Eilat campus, together with student Megan Rousseau of South Africa and marine biologist Prof.
Nadav Shashar, examined the extent of diving in Eilat and the behavior of divers in natural and artificial sites.
They found that about a third of Eilat diving is done on artificial reefs and one of the ships that was installed as a diving site is one of the most popular sites in the city.
Tamar, an artificial reef created by BGU in Eilat, in cooperation with the Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority, attracts trainee divers who also damage them while they study, but at the same time they reduce the heavy pressure on natural coral reefs and help rehabilitate them.
Shashar noted that with the opening to the public of the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Company, most of which is artificial reefs in the form of piers, it is hoped that the reef will indeed improve in the natural coral reserve, as laid down in the National Monitoring Program for the Gulf of Eilat.
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