Renowned chocolate brand Mars Incorporated has joined forces with divers to pioneer an innovative approach to revitalizing large coral reefs, marking a significant step in marine conservation.
Mars Incorporated, famed for its confectionery, has recently accomplished ‘The Big Build‘, one of the most monumental coral restoration events in history.
This ambitious endeavor involved the strategic placement of 30,000 corals across a 2,500-square-meter reef within Indonesia’s Spermonde Archipelago. This accomplishment is part of the broader ‘Mars Sustainable Solutions’ (MSS) program, which aims to restore a million corals worldwide by the end of the current year.
The Sulawesi-based Makassar coast adjacent to the Spermonde Archipelago has been the focal point of Mars’ coral reef restoration program since 2006. It is also home to the Sheba Hope Reef, an artificial reef forming the word “HOPE”, unveiled in 2021 as part of the broader initiative ‘SHEBA Hope Grows’, named after a pet food brand owned by Mars. The initiative’s goal is to restore over 185,000 square meters of coral reefs across various global locations by 2029.
To facilitate the extensive restoration effort of ‘The Big Build’, the ‘Mars Assisted Reef Restoration System’ (MARRS) was employed. Designed in 2011, MARRS accelerates reef restoration with greater speed, scale, and cost-efficiency. A proficient team of four divers utilized MARRS to install 500 reef stars (hexagonal frames covered in sand and affixed coral fragments) in just two days.
Frank Mars, board member and former president of Mars, expressed, “Fourteen years ago, I posed a simple question to a small team of Mars associates: Can we rebuild a coral reef ecosystem? Today, I’m proud to say the answer is ‘yes’, both technically and scientifically.”
The success of the SHEBA Hope Reefa underscores our potential to reverse coral reef decline by collectively transforming how we live, work, and play. Presently, the program spans more than 30 reefs in 10 countries, where Mars and its divers have successfully deployed over 60,000 Reef Stars, planting a remarkable 900,000 coral fragments.
Professor David Smith, Mars’ Chief Marine Scientist, emphasized the collaboration’s strength in rejuvenating critically endangered coral reefs at the heart of marine biodiversity in Indonesia. He stated, “Our joint efforts will spread a message of hope and optimism to the global community. Our aim is to establish the need for building reliable partnerships—locally and globally—to execute the necessary scale of restoration to preserve these invaluable ecosystems and ensure a brighter future for our oceans.”
Mars reports promising outcomes from their SHEBA coral reef restoration, including a remarkable coral growth increase of 2% to 70%, a surge in fish populations by 260% pre-restoration, and a coral count rise of 64%. Mars is enlisting divers worldwide, encouraging their involvement in this grand project, as they emphasize that the world we envision for tomorrow will not manifest on its own.