A fluff piece in more ways than one! The Institute For Figuring have been developing the ‘hyperbolic crochet coral reef’, a collective of crochet coral reef organisms knitted by hundreds of people across the globe. By altering the style of crochet through differing algorithms, the crochet reef has ‘evolved‘ an impressive diversity of reef associated organisms. The crochet reef has been shown at exhibitions across the US, and carries with it a serious message:
As part of the Crochet Coral Reef project the IFF has constructed a Bleached Reef, a handicrafted invocation of what happens to coral reefs under environmental stress. Most of the forms in this reef are crocheted from varying shades of white and cream, mimicking the effect of actual coral bleaching. Corals acquire their colors from microscopic zooaxanthellae that live within the polyps – these symbiotic organisms help the polyps feed. When corals get stressed by environmental toxins, or by rising water temperatures, the polyps expel the micro-organisms, leading to the washed out look known as “bleaching.” Polyps can survive for a short time in the absence of zooaxanthellae, but not over the long term. A healthy reef ecology is a co-operative one and in the long term the corals need the microorganisms to survive. Over the past decade reefs around the world have been subject to an increasing number of major bleaching events, suggesting that rising water temperatures are taking a heavy toll.