Environment & Public Space

South Pointe Park Coral Cam and Biorock Nursery

The South Pointe Park Coral Cam and Biorock Nursery will provide students, citizens, and tourists with a digital porthole into the aquatic life of Miami’s tropical reef ecosystem. The underwater camera will stream a live recording of South Pointe Park’s marinelife direct to the internet, where it can become a powerful symbol of Miami’s urban tropical ecology. Signage in the park and on the fishing pier will inform people how they can get a sub-surface view from their mobile phones. The installation will serve the community as both a teaching tool and water monitoring station for Biscayne Bay, while also being able to attract tourists from colder climates entranced by the array of vibrant tropical fish and coral they will see on their computer screens. Essentially it has the potential to serve as a virtual public aquarium in which the fish are free to come and go as they please with no glass walls to contain them.

 

South Pointe Park already is home to a diverse variety of brain corals, sea fans, sponges and tropical fish that living along the rocks of its boulder shoreline. Once the Deep Dredge of Government Cut is completed in mid 2015, South Pointe Park will soon again feature tropical turquoise water brought in from the Gulf Stream on the high tide. On the outgoing tide, the area is flushed with nutrient rich water from Biscayne Bay. This situation presents surprisingly ideal conditions for a coral nursery alongside a city park in which to study and propagate the resilient urban corals of Miami.

 

The underwater webcam is capable of being controlled remotely via the internet to rotate a full 360 degrees in order to fully explore the aquascape. It comes equipped with an automated wiper that removes algae from its glass dome, ensuring persistently clean views and low maintenance.

 

Biorock is a process in which an electrical current is passed through metal in seawater. This causes calcium carbonate to crystallize around the metal structure making it even stronger. Over time, the deposition of calcium carbonate continues to thicken creating an extremely sturdy structure with the same chemistry as a natural coral reef. Studies suggest that the electrical current allows corals to grow faster and keeps the competing algae away. By using metal rebar, elaborate geometric shapes can be constructed on which to grow coral. Artist Bhakti Baxter will create a circular rebar structure that will wrap around the webcam to maximize the 360 degree perspective, thus making it just as much as work of dynamic living art as it is an important platform for science.

 

The webcam and Biorock structure would be deployed west of the new fishing pier, about 50’ offshore South Pointe Park in water that is about 6’-8’ deep. Boats are prohibited from coming within 400’ of the edge of the shoreline, but for added safety, buoys will cordon off an area about 100’ long and 50’ wide to protect the nursery. The webcam and Biorock will be easily wired directly from South Pointe Park itself. In addition to the webcam, an array of water testing probes will be deployed to record the temperature, salinity, pH, and current of the water coming in and out of Biscayne Bay. This data will allow students and scientists to better monitor and record the health of our local ecosystem.

 

The Biorock sculpture will instantaneously attract a myriad of colorful and iconic tropical fish such as angelfish, parrotfish, and damselfish that will swim curiously around the webcam. Larger fish such as tarpon, barracuda, and snook will make regular appearances. With permission from the State of Florida, it will be possible to transplant coral fragments onto the Biorock reef that will eventually grow into large colonies. It will be a key goal of the Biorock nursery to be able to aquaculture a rare hybrid staghorn/elkhorn coral that lives in Government Cut in order to study its potential for restoration purposes on Miami’s reefs.

 

The South Pointe Coral Cam and Biorock Nursery is an ideal opportunity to showcase the natural beauty of Miami Beach from its premier park. It will function as an educational tool for students, while also serving to simply mesmerize thousands who will tune in to watch an underwater scene from Miami Beach via the internet, as if it were a virtual public aquarium.

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Idea No. 36