‘Living Sea Walls’ boost marine life in Cornwall’s harbours

3D TILES are being installed in Cornwall’s harbors, transforming flat to rocky surfaces to create a sanctuary for sea creatures.

More than 150 hexagonal tiles with textured patterns have already been introduced in Falmouth, Plymouth and Mevagissey, with plans for further installation in Newquay, Padstow and Port Isaac.

These plates are attached to flat, man-made walls such as harbors, breakwaters and sea defenses to improve marine life habitat.

Over 150 hexagonal tiles with textured patterns have already been introduced in Falmouth, Plymouth and Mevagissey ( )

They are a relatively new concept in the UK and were inspired by those in Australia called Living Sea Walls.

Australian research has shown that after one year, living levees already support at least 36% more species than simple, unmodified levees. Up to 85 species of invertebrates, seaweed and fish live and grow on the panels.

Tina Robinson, founder of Our Only World, the Cornish environmental charity behind the project, said: “The harbor walls are already turning into a green carpet.

“These slabs, with all their little nooks and crannies, dips and raised surface, create a rocky pool environment. The idea is to start at the bottom of the food chain: from seaweed, sea snails, cushion stars, anemones, sea squirts, periwinkles and lapis.

“In the UK, we have several plate suppliers that use green solutions for the marine industry.

“Arc Marine tiles are manufactured in Truro, recycling waste from the local granite and quarry industries.”

Hexagon tiles help create a “green carpet” ( )

Thirty plaques were attached to the east wall of Falmouth Harbor by Church Street car park in October in collaboration with Falmouth Harbor and Falmouth Town Council.

Vicki Spooner, Falmouth Harbour’s environmental manager, said: “This is such an exciting project as we strongly expect the seawall to change from a fairly barren expanse to a complex area that is home to a greater variety of species.

“This gives us a great opportunity to work with local schools, colleges and universities to monitor the colonization of these structures and develop survey skills.”

Husband and wife Mark and Tina Robinson founded Our Only World in 2018 to inspire younger generations, such as their grandchildren, to protect the marine environment.

Living dikes are one of their projects, along with water refill stations and a children’s book and charity music single.

Tina said: “There are 400 cargo-free ports in the UK. There’s no reason why we can’t put them across the UK and really make a difference.”

“Our only world hopes the ‘greening of grey’ will happen in Cornwall – and beyond.”

Plymouth University helped research, fund and support the installation of the plaques in the South West of England.

The Falmouth plaques were funded by Sea-Changers and the Matthew Good Foundation.