October 21, 2021

“Fish Hives”

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Can ‘Fish Hives’ replace lost coral in the Caribbean?

By Kath Whittey From Kickstarter

Objectives are to create affordable artificial reefs which will replicate lost natural corals


The iconic and vibrant coral reefs are dying worldwide. As a result, numerous fish species are losing their habitat. Using space hoppers and locally sourced bamboo to create a mould, we have developed the ‘Fish Hive’, a concrete dome that mimics coral habitat. Before these affordable artificial reefs can be used widely, we must first ask whether they do successfully provide a resource for fish and coral settlement. With changing climates, the future of coral reefs are now in our hands. 


Coral reefs support 25% of all marine species, provide us with food, coastal protection, medicines and tourism. Worldwide, these iconic systems are dying as a result of human actions (bleaching, pollution and overexploitation), and in the Caribbean nearly 60% of all live coral cover has been lost. The structure a coral provides, in terms of the nooks and crannies provides a habitat for other reef species. Therefore loss of corals leads to loss of other reef species. Artificial reefs replicate the space and complexity a coral provides, but currently they are expensive to build and require specialist setup. We need an affordable, easy to make, reef structure that can be deployed by anyone – here we have developed the ‘Fish Hive’, which we aim to trial in a damaged reef in the Caribbean.


By creating an affordable concrete dome ‘Fish Hive’ using local everyday and natural materials, these artificial reef structures would allow local dive groups and research communities to contribute to the ongoing mission to save our coral reefs. This project specifically aims to test which reef fish use the hives, how quickly, and to the site and which corals will colonise the hives. Run by scientists from Cardiff University UK, pilot hives will be placed on a reef in Tobago, a long-term study site for the University over the past 10 years. In collaboration with the local community-based NGO, ERIC (Environmental Research Institute Charlotteville), this project is uniquely placed to capture the success of these affordable structures in terms of reef health and community impact. 


Our objectives are to create affordable artificial reefs which will replicate lost natural reef structures. Specifically we hope to:

1. Provide habitat space by replacing the structure lost from dead coral, promoting the health of the reef.

2. Provide a suitable substrate for future coral settlement

3. Pilot a novel affordable method for creating artificial reef structures

4. Monitor the progress of the Fish-Hives in collaboration with ERIC (the local NGO)

5. Create natural-looking artificial reef structures which facilitate and not disrupt tourism and local fishing activities.


27th June to the 23th July, 2019:

· Annual long-term monitoring of study site 

·  Meetings with the local NGO, ERIC to plan the construction of hives 

·  Sourcing materials for building

·  Engagement of the project with the local community

23rd of June, 2019

· First pilot structure construction

· Pending funds for project, 11 more hives to be built

July 2019- June 2020

· Tri-monthly monitoring of fish and coral abundance at Fish-Hives by ERIC

Risks and challenges

These novel Fish-Hives will be deployed in the sea for the first time and have been designed to withstand the forces of the sea. However rough seas may damage the structures.

All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Wed, July 10 2019 5:14 PM EST. $3,147 is the goal.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Kath Whittey

Cardiff, UK

I am a second year PhD student at Cardiff University specialising in marine biology. I graduated from Cardiff University with a BSc in Biology. During my undergraduate project I set up a collaboration with the Hydrous and Grace C. Young and from this collaboration gained a funded scholarship for a PhD with Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS2), supervised by Dr Sarah E. Perkins and Prof. Jo Cable. I am very passionate about the marine environment and using new methodologies to survey coral reefs. Through my affiliations with the Grace C. Young and the Hydrous (https://www.thehydro.us), I have been using 3D modelling to survey the sharknose goby cleaner fish habitat at Cardiff Universities long-terms study site in Tobago. In addition to using surveying and monitoring techniques I am interested in using novel approaches to replicate the space that coral provides. This brought me to develop ‘Fish-Hives’, an artificial concrete dome made from a simple space-hopper mould. I hope that Fish-Hives will prove to be an affordable, reproducible and durable structure which will successfully mimic the coral habitat providing shelter for fish.

To pledge go to: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/fish-hives/can-fish-hives-replace-lost-coral-in-the-caribbean

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  1. Great idea. Excellent way to help the demise of the coral. Good luck. Hope people donate to this project.

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