June 6 (UPI) -- Sydney Harbor has a new reef on its sandy floor. Officials unveiled an artificial reef this week alongside the sea wall of the Sydney Opera House at Bennelong Point.
The reef is composed of eight pods, each featuring three hexagonal-shaped units. The hexagonal frames are composed of marine-grade steel and concrete. Half of the pods are outfitted with 3D-printed triangular tiles.
Currently, the frames are bare, but slowly they will build up crusty layers of seaweed and sea life. Scientists plan to track reef growth at the different structures to determine which shapes and textures are best.
Though only just installed, the pods are already being noticed.
"It's amazing, after only a few weeks the pods are already attracting the interest of the types of species we hope will be drawn to this new habitat such as leatherjackets, bream and octopus," David Booth, a professor of marine ecology at the University of Technology Sydney, said in a news release. "We will continue to monitor the reefs and adjacent sites to document change and how effective adding small fish habitat structures is in enhancing fish life on seawalls. We hope it is a model for other cities on harbors."
The installation of the artificial reef is one of several environmental projects being spearheaded by the Sydney Opera House and University of Technology Sydney. The world-famous music venue has been working to become more energy efficient. The opera house recently agreed to buy a large renewable energy supply.
"At the same time, the installation of the artificial reef is a example of our broader commitment to protecting and preserving the environment in action," said Emma Bombonato, the environmental sustainability manager at the Sydney Opera House. "As we look to the future, innovative approaches such as [power purchase agreements] are essential to secure long-term, sustainable renewable energy sources, so it's exciting to be involved at the early stages of these projects."