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Dubai's coral reef flourishes at The World

on Sep 2, 2013

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Dubai’s largest coral reef, relocated by Nakheel Developers to The World Islands in an attempt to save it from infrastructure development, has since grown in size by about 20%.

The move that took place five years ago was recently featured on the Discovery Channel,

Although the project cost more than $9.8m (AED36m), it has been deemed a success. It now comprises of 18 types of coral, more than 30 types of reef-associated fish including rare species such as the sind and regal damselfish.

The reef has also become the latest destination for scuba divers in Dubai.

According to Emirates News Agency, Nakheel Marine Group's director of development and operations, Ali Saeed Bin Thalith , described the operation as an engineering landmark which required the coral-encrusted rocks to be lifted without actually leaving the water.

“This wasn’t an option for us because each rock was encased in coral which would have been severely damaged if moved in the traditional way.

"Engineers and divers drilled and glued an iron bolt into each rock and attached a sling to hoist them from their resting place. Each rock was suspended from the deck of a 90-metre- barge. The barge was then towed at two knots for more than 18 km to the World, carefully lowered into place. The process repeated for 49 days until 1,129 rocks had been re-homed.”

John Burt, head of marine biology at New York University Abu Dhabi was also asked to advice.

“The technique used to transport the corals underwater was a world’s first. The move also bought additional benefits as the relocated area now has a diverse community of reef fish and rare species, unseen before.”