In 2019, Sant Barbara resident Chris Goldblatt set out to design the world’s most advanced ocean reef unit. The result of what became a monumental research and development project is the Sea Cave, which is a thing of engineering beauty in the eyes of someone like me who works hard for a healthy, thriving ocean full of sustainable life.
A miniature model was fabricated and temporarily deployed as a short-term experiment on the sea floor off Santa Barbara. Lush kelp grew up from the structure and critters quickly adopted it as home. The Sea Cave held small kelp holdfasts and showed excellent stability in the currents and swells.
Next, molds were made for big 2,600-pound Sea Caves and pouring began in earnest. These full-size units can serve as holdfasts for very large kelp plants, like we want to restore in Goleta Bay to protect the bay, enhance marine life, and help bring some sand back to the popular beach.
Besides serving as kelp holdfasts, Sea Caves are great for lobster, scallops, abalone out-planting, increasing fish populations, and helping with sustainable populations of numerous sea critters. Each unit is designed to support an impressive 500 kilograms (over 1,100 pounds) of flora and fauna.
Design factors impress me, such as concrete specially formulated at almost 6,000 PSI. It is full of densifiers, water proofers, bonding micro-fibers, and PH balancers so the PH of the concrete matches that of saltwater, to allow plants to settle naturally. Sea Caves are designed to last 500 years under water.
That is why donors with high net worth are beginning to circle with offers to name the entire Goleta kelp reefs with family name to create a 500-year legacy. Goldblatt has not commented on this, but sources tell me naming rights go to the single largest donor for the project.
Protected by copyrights, trademarks and patents, the Sea Cave is well protected and sole worldwide licensing rights for construction, deployment, monitoring and permitting rests with Santa Barbara’s own Fish Reef Project. It is a perfect fit.
Sea Caves are going places. They have been recently shipped to destinations such as Baja and South Carolina. Other projects include development of the giant African Food Reef to build food-generating reefs up and down the coasts of Africa, bringing about food, jobs and carefully managed ocean health.
In Papua New Guinea, a Fish Reef Project deployment has been providing food, jobs and ocean health for years.
Fish Reef Project stands ready and able to deploy reefs in California State waters, such as for a kelp restoration project in Goleta Bay. California has not kept up with other states and nations in implementing a reefing program to restore kelp forests and enhance sea life and recreational/commercial opportunities. Hopefully very soon.
— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.