Gold Coast Wonder Reef dive attraction undergoes coral grafting in preparation for opening in 2022

Divers have finished transplanting coral taken from reefs around the Gold Coast, onto a $ 5 million underwater tourist attraction.

Nine floating sculptures were anchored about 2.5 kilometers off The Spit in August, hoping to open the dive attraction by March of next year.

Sea World has partnered with Townsville’s consultants, Reef Ecologic, to transplant segments of coral reefs onto underwater structures, named Wonder Reef.

“Some were directly attached using a material like cement,” said Wayne Phillips, head of marine science at Sea World.

“Others were attached to geo-fabrication and things like rope and placed around the reef in the hope that they would sow on that reef.”

Colonization of fish begins

Mr Phillips said a transplant effort had been undertaken to “speed up” the growth of reefs in the area and to “make sure we get the right species”.

Divers transplant coral at Wonder Reef attraction.(Provided: City of Gold Coast)

“Something they hope will attract new divers to the area and a range of divers.”

The transplanted coral is expected to grow between one and 25 centimeters per year, depending on the species.

“It’s pretty surreal to see them at first.”

Thousands of divers every year

The “Wonder Reef” attraction was jointly funded by the state government and the city of Gold Coast.

$ 5million man-made reef under construction off the Gold Coast slated for completion in June 2021
A $ 5 million man-made reef is being built off the Gold Coast and is expected to open by March 2022.(Provided: City of Gold Coast )

Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said “this is expected to attract over 16,000 divers each year, support local jobs and generate up to $ 33 million in revenue for the local economy over the next decade” .

Mayor Tom Tate said the site will attract a range of qualified divers.

“It’s for all levels; beginners, intermediate and if you want to go 30 meters you can.”

It is hoped that the site, aimed at diversifying the city’s tourist offer, will create a marine habitat of 32,000 cubic meters.

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