Living Seawalls, a flagship project from the Sydney Institute of Marine Science, installs panels that mimic ‘microhabitats’. These provide marine creatures and seaweeds with habitat to colonize and grow, including crannies and crevices that serve as refuge.
One living seawall features 90 habitat panels bolted onto two 12-meter stretches of Sydney Harbor seawalls at Rushcutters Bay. These interlocking panels attract a host of marine life. Oysters and mussels, for example, improve water quality while seaweeds provide food and sequester carbon.
It is better to build with nature in mind from the outset. But Living Seawalls is doing the next best thing by retrofitting existing seawalls with 3D printed tiles that mimic microhabitats commonly found on natural shorelines.
“Artificial seawalls tend to be flat, vertical structures but we rarely see flat vertical walls in nature. Natural rock surfaces have lots of overhangs and complex ridges that provide places for sea animals to hide and seaweeds to gather,” says Jaimie Potts, Senior Environmental Scientist at the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.