Reef Innovations


Press ReleaseSource: Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean International Rebuilds Bahamas Coral Reef
Friday June 20, 10:30 am ET

MIAMI, June 20 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Crew members of Royal Caribbean International’s Sovereign of the Seas and the cruise line’s Aquatics Department are spearheading an initiative using concrete “reef balls” to rebuild a coral reef in the waters off CocoCay, its private island in the Bahamas.
CocoCay provides a virtual paradise for more than a half-million Royal Caribbean guests annually, through snorkeling, swimming, and other beach and water-related activities. The island is home to many breathtaking natural characteristics, from underwater limestone formations that create a perfect habitat for many marine organisms, to coastal flats with an abundance of fish and plant life. The reef restoration effort will counteract the effects of time and tropical weather conditions that have contributed to the deterioration of the reef adjacent to the island.The restoration project involves the placement of what are called reef balls. The balls look similar to giant wiffle balls, made of a marine- friendly concrete, measuring up to four feet across by three feet tall and weighing as much as 1,750 pounds.

The reef balls will be placed in two locations around CocoCay. Those placed in shallower waters, closer to shore, will increase and enhance fish habitat and will act as a snorkeling path that leads guests to areas of interest. Balls placed in deeper waters will assist in coral propagation. These balls also will be seeded with coral plugs to further spur the coral reef’s growth. Underwater and shoreside signs will explain what guests are seeing as they view the reef balls and tell how guests may help in protecting the island’s environment.

“Our reef restoration project is another excellent example of how dedicated our employees are to the ocean environments in which we sail,” said Capt. Bill Wright, senior vice president of Safety, Security and Environment for Royal Caribbean International. “I congratulate the Sovereign of the Seas crew and our Aquatics staff for their strong environmental efforts — both onboard ship and at CocoCay.”

Sovereign of the Seas was honored as Royal Caribbean’s 2001 Environmental Ship of the Year. For that accomplishment, the ship was given a $25,000 grant to use with an environmental charity or project. The ship’s crew members and the Aquatics Department are applying the $25,000 to the project in cooperation with the Reef Ball Foundation.

The company’s Aquatics staff on the island will work with the ship’s crew members to construct some 200 reef balls in six different fiberglass molds, as well as deploy them through the use of air bladders inflated within the balls. That work will be done when the ship makes its twice-weekly visits to CocoCay, during its three- and four-night Caribbean sailings from Port Canaveral, Florida. Guests onboard Sovereign of the Seas will be informed of reef ball deployment activities so they may observe. Guests also will be able to examine an actual reef ball near the island’s shoreline, where one will be displayed with informational materials explaining their use and the company’s effort to restore the near-by reef.

A monitoring program will be put in place to track the progress of the reef balls’ underwater developments. It will include the marking of each reef ball, underwater photography, pH measurements of the water, and fish population and coral growth assessments.

Additional information on the Reef Ball Foundation and reef ball use around the world may be found at . The site’s “Photo Gallery” includes pictures of Royal Caribbean’s activity at CocoCay.


Project Name
Time Frame
Type Modules
# Modules
Project Description

Royal Caribbean Sovereign of the Seas
Coco Cay
palet, bay, minibay, & lopro
training and construction on the island. Returned later for deployment. Coco Cay RCCL private island used for daily excursions, water sports, and diving.

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