Using Art & Science to Restore Coral Reef Habitats

2019, September - Although coral reefs cover a very small part of the ocean, they are responsible for creating habitat for over 25 percent of marine species — and they are dying at an alarming rate across the globe. 


By integrating art, science, and technology, Colleen Flanigan's work is playing a part to save our coral reefs.  "In our short lifespan, how much do we value living in harmony and beauty and abundance with what we've been given?" 


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Welcome to the Wet Lab

2019, March - A quick view of Colleen's two tanks with electro-accumulation going on. 


Making "accumulets" - amulets and sculptural experiments for coral reef restoration. An art and science medium with lots of undiscovered potential, every piece reveals something new about the process and possibilities for unique marine habitat, reef substrate, shore protection, jewelry, sculpture... 


Follow along here on Patreon to help create a world for coral reefs to flourish.

Let the Accumulets Begin

2019, January - Colleen puts her 1st UCSC "accumulets" in the tanks. 


Low volt direct current flowing through seawater will precipitate minerals to accumulate onto metal. We can construct marine habitats with this electrolysis process to help revive endangered coral reefs. 


In a UCSC wet lab we are experimenting with various forms to learn more about the process as we design new Living Sea Sculptures to benefit biodiverse ocean ecosystems.  


Join in on the process here on Patreon

Little Urchin Neighbor

2019, March - 💋from the UCSC wet lab. 

This beautiful sea urchin is in a large aquarium as part of a grad student's research. Not every day I get to see its mouth.

Balanophyllia elegans - UCSC time-lapse

Time-lapse of coral feeding behavior. Working with Dr. Don Potts at the Marine Lab at UCSC, Colleen Flanigan has been staging time-lapse in collaboration with Stage 13 in Portland, OR. Here you can see 3 different setups of corals with the intention of observing their feeding behavior and cycles, along with whatever else we would discover. A photograph was taken every 15 seconds.

Balanophyllia Elegans - Coral Eating Time-Lapse

2019, June - Colleen, Dan Ackerman, and Thomas Fitzgerald, have been staging time-lapse at UCSC Marine Lab. Photos captured every 15 sec.


Dr. Don Potts is studying feeding cycles of Pacific corals he's been cultivating in the wetlab. We are observing full cycle feeding, digesting, and expelling.


Colleen Flanigan, initiated this documentation collaboration as part of her investigation of coral biology and electro-accumulation for coral restoration work reviving endangered coral reef ecosystems.

Time-Lapse Coral

2019, June - Balanophyllia elegans adult and juveniles at the UCSC Marine Lab are shown eating here over a period of hours. A shot was taken every 15 seconds. Brine shrimp were added to the tank to witness their feeding behavior. This was a collaboration with professor Dr. Don Potts and Colleen Flanigan. Rental equipment and services for the time-lapse provided by Stage 13 in Portland, OR.

Accumulet Time-lapse

We have over 10,000 still photos stitched together by Thomas Fitzgerald. The 1st 4000 shots were taken every 1 minute, the next 6000 every 2 minutes. 


This is made possible by Dan Ackerman of Stage 13 in Portland, OR working so professionally to supply the equipment and orchestrate the tech with Tom and I remotely. 


Huge thanks to Don Potts and John Koster of UCSC providing this amazing opportunity to investigate the art and science of electro-accumulation for coral restoration in their wet lab.

"Accumulet" Take 3 ~ Flower

Our 3rd small "accumulet" time-lapse was started on night of May 16, 2019. At some point in our experiment on May 23rd in the night, the camera disconnected from the computer and remote team viewers. With a little help from a labmate, we got the camera back online, but unfortunately the camera slipped out of position. This is what we have of this shoot so far. Tomorrow I'll go to the lab to recon the situation and we'll decide if an attempt to resume or set up take 4 is in the stars.

"Accumulet" time-lapse take 2!

We started the 2nd "accumulet" on Friday, May 11th. Tom Fitzgerald made this quick clip to show how it is coming together with the 1st day of shots. Promising! To learn more and follow posts & progress:  https://www.patreon.com/CoralReefLivi...

Fan Accumulet

Electro-accumulation through seawater at the Marine Lab at UCSC. Low volt current causes the minerals in the ocean to deposit onto the steel mesh, building up a natural substrate for corals and other organisms to colonize. Materials research for coral reef restoration by Colleen Flanigan. Time-lapse equipment and remote tech support by Stage 13 in Portland, OR,

"Accumulet" take 2 day 3

It is depositing minerals from the ocean water really quickly. They look like they are brucite and will crumble and slough off easily. I bumped the voltage up a bit from the last "accumulet" time-lapse because it was depositing very slowly. Now I'm wondering if the 1st "accumulet" didn't have as good of a connection to the cathode wire or bar, or the size of it also played a role. love this!!