A Community Coral Reef

1 minute read

During the 2023 Cambridge Festival, we teamed up with visitors to the Sedgwick Museum to bring a colourful coral reef to life.

plasticine corals

Coral reefs are thriving centres of life in the ocean, providing a home for 25% of all marine life. Yet with climate change having a disproportionate effect on these ecosystems, their survival to the end of the century has been put into question. Dear to our hearts and our research, this is a topic we believe is important to get the community involved with and talking about.

During two weekends in early 2023, we invited visitors to the Sedgwick Museum to dive into the world of corals, helping us grow a community reef. We were encouraged to see all ages getting creative with simple modelling material, or leaning in close to examine the intricate architecture of a modern brain coral skeleton. Inspired by the diversity of shapes and colours in the natural world, each coral in our community reef is a reminder of the importance that all species play in supporting a healthy, resilient ecosystem. Thank you to all our contributors!

plasticine corals

The idea to model this coral reef first arose from the monotony of long hours in the lab, and the remains of a less than conventional piece of lab equipment; plasticine. The first micro-reef installation still welcomes visitors to the coral lab at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia. With only three original collaborators, Madison, her mum, and her cousin’s three year old daughter, it is inspiring to see the creativity and diversity that more than 70 museum visitors have brought to the project.

This event was run in collaboration with the Cambridge Festival and the Sedgwick Museum, alongside a collaborative exhibition entitled ‘Shimmering: protecting balance in water ecosystems’. Special thanks to our collaborators Dr Marina Velez Vago and Thale Fastvold.

The team